Pathways and strategies for developing a malaria blood-stage vaccine

Annu Rev Immunol. 1998;16:57-87. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.16.1.57.


In the past 10 years, our knowledge of the malaria parasite has increased enormously: identification and analysis of parasite antigens, demonstration of protection of monkeys and mice following immunization with these antigens, and better understanding of the mechanisms of immunity to malaria and the pathogenesis of disease in malaria. Powerful new adjuvants have been developed, some of which--it is hoped--will be suitable for human use. Recently, a successful human trial of a vaccine aimed at sporozoites (the stage inoculated by mosquitoes) was completed. However, it is the red blood cell stage of the parasite that causes disease, and it is against this stage--in which the parasite grows at an exponential rate--that it has proven very difficult to induce a protective immune response by vaccination. This review focuses on recent exciting developments toward a blood-stage vaccine. We analyze the major obstacles to vaccine development and outline a strategy involving public- and industry-funded research that should result in development of a vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Design
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Malaria Vaccines*
  • Plasmodium / growth & development


  • Malaria Vaccines