Men's immunity could be key to new malaria drugs

March 12, 2014 by Kate Toogood, University of Alberta
Sedami Gnidehou's research could lead to new drugs to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from malaria. Credit: Kate Toogood

(Medical Xpress)—A University of Alberta researcher's discovery about how malaria affects men could mean the difference between life and death for pregnant women in Colombia.

Sedami Gnidehou began working on diagnosis in 2011 when she joined Stephanie Yanow's laboratory as a research associate in the School of Public Health. They're now embarking on research that could provide a new vaccine strategy that would protect and their unborn children from malaria.

In a pilot study with collaborators in Colombia and Benin, Gnidehou discovered that men exposed to one species of the parasite that causes malaria have antibodies that recognize another species that is highly dangerous to pregnant women. The discovery raises the possibility of a vaccine that could protect pregnant women against multiple species of malaria.

"Now, we need to confirm our observation using a large number of participants from across Colombia and Latin America," said Gnidehou. She hopes, within a year, to be well on the way to identifying new antigens that will contribute to a multivalent pregnancy vaccine. If successful, it will be the first of its kind to protect against multiple species of malaria.

"The impact of malaria is astonishing," she said. "Since more than 125 million pregnancies globally are threatened by , a vaccine would be a game-changer."

"What will be interesting is to determine whether we can develop a vaccine that can protect pregnant women as well as non-pregnant people," said Gnidehou.

Gnidehou says the research could also have implications for people living in malaria-ridden areas around the world, and those who travel to these regions. According to the World Health Organization, this could be as many as 3.3 billion people worldwide.

"With a vaccine, we can protect the health of people who live in high-risk areas, as well as those who travel to these parts of the world. This research has the potential to save lives through prevention of one of the biggest threats to health humankind has faced."

Explore further: Malaria vaccine development paves way for protective therapy

Related Stories

Malaria vaccine development paves way for protective therapy

February 18, 2014
Scientists have made a significant contribution towards the development of a vaccine to prevent malaria.

Cross-species malaria immunity induced by chemically attenuated parasites

July 1, 2013
Malaria, a mosquito-born infectious disease, kills over 600,000 people every year. Research has focused on the development of a vaccine to prevent the disease; however, many malaria vaccines targeting parasite antigens have ...

Malaria parasites camouflage themselves from the immune defenses of expectant mothers

August 19, 2011
Collaborative research between Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Copenhagen, published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have answered a long standing mystery, why ...

Mosquito bites deliver potential new malaria vaccine

September 11, 2013
This study suggests that genetically engineered malaria parasites that are stunted through precise gene deletions (genetically attenuated parasites, or "GAP") could be used as a vaccine that protects against malaria infection. ...

Australian researchers close in on malaria vaccine

July 2, 2013
Australian researchers said Tuesday they were closing in on a potential vaccine against malaria, with a study showing their treatment had protected mice against several strains of the disease.

Recommended for you

Improving vaccines for the elderly by blocking inflammation

January 22, 2018
By identifying why skin immunity declines in old age, a UCL-led research team has found that an anti-inflammatory pill could help make vaccines more effective for elderly people.

Novel genomic tools provide new insight into human immune system

January 19, 2018
When the body is under attack from pathogens, the immune system marshals a diverse collection of immune cells to work together in a tightly orchestrated process and defend the host against the intruders. For many decades, ...

Genomics reveals key macrophages' involvement in systemic sclerosis

January 18, 2018
A new international study has made an important discovery about the key role of macrophages, a type of immune cell, in systemic sclerosis (SSc), a chronic autoimmune disease which currently has no cure.

First vaccine developed against grass pollen allergy

January 18, 2018
Around 400 million people worldwide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis), with the usual symptoms of runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. In collaboration with the Viennese firm ...

Researchers discover key driver of atopic dermatitis

January 17, 2018
Severe eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is driven by an allergic reaction. In their latest study, researchers at La Jolla Institute reveal an important player that promotes ...

Who might benefit from immunotherapy? New study suggests possible marker

January 16, 2018
While immunotherapy has made a big impact on cancer treatment, the fact remains that only about a quarter of patients respond to these treatments.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.