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Research on malaria vaccines is currently directed primarily towards the development of vaccines that prevent clinical malaria. Malaria elimination, now being considered seriously in some epidemiological situations, requires a different vaccine strategy, since success will depend on killing all parasites in the community in order to stop transmission completely. The feature of the life-cycles of human malarias that presents the greatest challenge to an elimination programme is the persistence of parasites as asymptomatic infections. These are an important source from which transmission to mosquitoes can occur. Consequently, an elimination strategy requires a community-based approach covering all individuals and not just those who are susceptible to clinical malaria. The progress that has been made in development of candidate malaria vaccines is reviewed. It is unlikely that many of these will have the efficacy required for complete elimination of parasites, though they may have an important role to play as part of future integrated control programmes. Vaccines for elimination must have a high level of efficacy in order to stop transmission to mosquitoes. This might be achieved with some pre-erythrocytic stage candidate vaccines or by targeting the sexual stages directly with transmission-blocking vaccines. An expanded malaria vaccine programme with such objectives is now a priority.

Citation

Geoffrey A Targett, Brian M Greenwood. Malaria vaccines and their potential role in the elimination of malaria. Malaria journal. 2008;7 Suppl 1:S10

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PMID: 19091034

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