Researchers file patent for RNA-based vaccine for malaria

Researchers at New Haven, Conn.-based Yale University filed a patent application for a malaria vaccine that uses RNA-based technology similar to Moderna and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, reports The Academic Times.

Producing an effective vaccine for malaria is a difficult task because Plasmodium — the parasite that transmits the disease — has a protein that hinders the creation of memory T-cells. The human body must be able to create these T-cells, which protect against future infections, for vaccines to work. 

The new vaccine uses RNA technology to bypass the protein, thus allowing for the creation of T-cells. The vaccine has not been tested in humans but achieved "probably the highest level of protection that has been seen in a mouse model," Richard Bucala, MD, PhD, the vaccine's co-inventor and a professor of medicine, pathology, and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, told The Academic Times.

In 2019, malaria sickened an estimated 229 people globally and killed 409,000. At present, the only FDA-approved vaccine on the market is 30 percent effective for the first four years after inoculation. 

The researchers filed the patent application Feb. 4. Their work was funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the National Institutes of Health.

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