World's Largest Malaria Vaccine Trial Under Way in Seven African Nations with Help from GlaxoSmithKline

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov. 3 (UPI) — The world’s largest malaria vaccine trial, an efficacy trial for the vaccine — RTS, is under way in seven African nations, GlaxoSmithKline said.

The trial is being conducted in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. Officials speaking Tuesday at the Pan-African Malaria Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, said the trial is expected to involve up to 16,000 children, with more than 5,000 children already enrolled.

GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals’ said RTS,S is the first malaria vaccine candidate to demonstrate significant efficacy during early development to warrant Phase III testing.

Trial officials said RTS,S is designed primarily for use in Africa, where malaria kills more than 800,000 people annually, the majority of them children. By conducting the trial in seven different countries across sub-Saharan Africa, researchers hope to evaluate the vaccine candidate’s efficacy in a variety of settings, with diverse patterns of malaria transmission. For example, officials said some trial sites are located in areas where there is a year-round threat of malaria, while others experience only seasonal transmission.

“This is a tremendous moment in the fight against malaria and the culmination of more than two decades of research, including 10 years of clinical trials in Africa,” said Dr. Joe Cohen, co-inventor of RTS,S and a GSK Biologicals vice president. “The Phase III trial is a huge undertaking … for what could become the world’s first malaria vaccine.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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