Malaria parasites cause an inflammatory reaction that sabotages our body's ability to protect itself against the disease, revealed Australian scientists. The discovery opens up the possibility of improving new or existing malaria vaccines by boosting key immune cells needed for long-lasting immunity.
These findings could even include vaccines that have previously been ineffective in clinical trials. Researchers from Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute discovered that the same inflammatory molecules that drive the immune response in clinical and severe malaria also prevent the body from developing protective antibodies against the parasite.
Researcher Diana Hansen said, "It was the first time scientists had pinpointed why the immune system fails to develop immunity during malaria infection. Until now, malaria vaccines have had disappointing results. We can now see a way of improving these responses, by tailoring or augmenting the vaccine to boost development of helper T cells that will enable the body to make protective antibodies that target the malaria parasites."