Filipino-Led Team Discovers Malaria Vaccine

January 21, 2010

Filipino-Led Team Discovers Malaria Vaccine

Rhoel R. Dinglasan, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (MRI) in Baltimore, has helped a team of scientists isolate an antigen (a substance that stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies) that prevents a mosquito from transmitting the malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite.

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino-led scientific team based in Maryland has discovered a vaccine that prevents the spread of malaria.

Rhoel R. Dinglasan, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (MRI) in Baltimore, has helped a team of scientists isolate an antigen (a substance that stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies) that prevents a mosquito from transmitting the malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite.

The substance also "treats" the mosquito in the process.

Dinglasan's research team had prevented mosquitoes from producing sugars in their stomach lining, which Plasmodium parasites need to multiply.

By stopping the production of sugar in a mosquito's belly, the parasites cannot multiply.

This prevents the mosquito from transferring the malaria-causing parasite to human blood through insect bites.

The team's discovery was published in a paper titled "Disruption of Plasmodium falciparum development by antibodies against a conserved mosquito midgut antigen."

Hope for malaria cure

"The antibodies that we have produced are effective against multiple malaria parasites and therefore, this antigen may constitute the basis for a future 'universal' malaria transmission-blocking vaccine," Dinglasan told TIME Magazine in an article published on January 15, 2010.

The resulting vaccine, called AnAPN1, will be introduced into a human's body. A mosquito that bites that human will pick up antibodies that prevent it from spreading malaria.

The vaccine reportedly works against major types of malaria and a variety of mosquito species.

Dinglasan, 37, who headed the ground-breaking research, was a former president of La Salle Green Hills high school.

The research was a joint effort of the MRI Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, the Institute of Genetic Medicine of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Their research was published in 2007.

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