Scientists have identified a substance, or antigen, that generates antibodies that can hinder the ability of malaria parasites to multiply, which may protect against severe malaria infection.
The antigen, which is known as PfSEA-1, was linked to reduced parasite levels among children and adults in malaria-endemic areas and it was found that mice exposed to PfSEA-1 in an investigational vaccine also experienced lower malaria parasite levels.
Multiple tests confirmed that antibodies to PfSEA-1 halted malaria infection at the point when the parasite leaves one red blood cell to invade a new one.
This stage offers a unique target for future malaria vaccines as previous vaccine candidates have tried to block the stage when parasites enter red blood cells.
The study was published in Science.