Through the use of a weakened form of malaria parasite, a genetically modified vaccine has passed a major milestone in human safety trials.

To achieve this, researchers used a form of malaria parasite that was unable to cause a full infection in people.

Researchers at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research, in Seattle, U.S., removed three genes from the parasite to prevent it from infecting liver cells.

None of the ten volunteers who took part in the safety trials developed the disease and there were no severe side-effects to the treatment.

All ten subjects developed antibodies which were subsequently given to mice, who showed greater immunity when they were intentionally infected with malaria.

Published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the trial suggested that the vaccine was safe and generated a good immune response.

Sebastian Mikolajczak, one of the researchers, said: “The clinical study now shows that the vaccine is completely attenuated in humans and also shows that even after only a single administration, it elicits a robust immune response against the malaria parasite.

“Together these findings are critical milestones for malaria vaccine development.”



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