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An Oxford-led study has identified the antibodies that may hold the key to creating the first effective vaccine against malaria infection in the blood.

Identification of protective antibodies may be key to malaria vaccine © Shutterstock

Researchers from the University of Oxford, along with partners from five institutions around the world, have identified the human antibodies that prevent the malaria parasite from entering blood cells, which may be key to creating a highly effective malaria vaccination. The results of the study were published today in the journal Cell.

“Following an infectious mosquito bite, the malaria parasite goes first to the human liver, and then moves into the blood. Here it replicates ten-fold every 48 hours inside red blood cells – it is this blood-stage of the infection that leads to illness and can be fatal,” explains study author Simon Draper, Professor of Vaccinology and Translational Medicine at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford. “The malaria parasite has a protein called RH5, which must bind to a human protein on red blood cells called basigin in order to infect them. In this study, we were able to demonstrate which human antibodies effectively block RH5 from binding with basigin, thus preventing the parasite from spreading through the blood.”

Read more (University of Oxford website)