Using monoclonal antibodies to prevent malaria
Malaria is a serious health threat across the world, and some groups and regions, such as children in sub-Saharan Africa, are particularly vulnerable. While a first-of-its-kind malaria vaccine was recently approved in Africa for use in infants ages 5 to 17 months old, it is only 36 percent effective at preventing the illness after four years. Thus, there is a critical need for new interventions that are highly effective at providing sustained protection from malaria in infants, young children, and pregnant women.
IRP investigators led by Robert Seder, M.D., isolated a monoclonal antibody, CIS43, from an individual who received an investigational malaria vaccine. In animal studies, the researchers found that CIS43 prevents infection by binding to the surface of a protein on the parasite responsible for malaria, Plasmodium falciparum. The research team then introduced a change into the CIS43 antibody that lengthened the amount of time it remains active in the body, producing a new version they named CIS43LS. In a first-in-human Phase 1 clinical trial, the CIS43LS antibody was found to be safe when administered to healthy adults. In addition, when participants were exposed to mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium parasites 4-36 weeks after receiving CIS43LS, all of the participants who received CIS43LS were protected from malaria infection.
This study provides the first evidence that administration of an anti-malaria antibody is safe and can prevent malaria infection in humans. The ability of an antibody to provide high-level protection for 6-12 months following a single administration may lead to immediate control of malaria in infants, young children, and pregnant women, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Moreover, a monoclonal antibody-based vaccine provides a potential tool to eliminate malaria, which would vastly improve health and economic well-being around the world.
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This page was last updated on Thursday, June 8, 2023