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The Latest Edition of "Eyes on malaria" magazine will be out very soon!! | CALL FOR ARTICLES: AMMREN is inviting journalists / writers / scientists interested in reporting on malaria to send articles for publication in its international magazine “Eyes on Malaria” and for posting on its website. Please contact the AMMREN Secretariat for more details click here. Enjoy your stay!. Volunteers and interns urgently needed to work with an NGO working in the area of malaria and health. Apply through - ammren1@gmail.com / ammren1@yahoo.com. Journalists interested in reporting on and writing articles on health issues should please reply through this email: ammren1@gmail.com

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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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COHEN CRIES EUREKA

RTS,S Co-Inventor, Joe Cohen’s story

How interesting that the invention of the RTS,S malaria vaccine had something to do with Hepatitis, another ruthless killer disease.

Well, today the millions of Africans expecting to benefit from the promising malaria vaccine, have Joe Cohen to thank, for having that heaven-inspired brainwave to fuse the Hepatitis surface antigen and the protein that coats the surface of the plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite- Circum-sporozoite Protein (CSP).

           Joe Cohen, Co-inventor of RTS,S vaccine

Credit: John-Michael Maas, Darby Communications

You may say, in other words that the RTS,S vaccine’s Co-inventor Dr Cohen  proposed this to the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) team and the rest is.....not precisely history,  but  the beginning of a phenomenal advancement in medicine.

This is how Africa and the world got the promising malaria candidate vaccine popularly known as RTS, S.

“The process started 23 years ago at GSK in my laboratory between 1987 and 1989,” the original patent holder of the RTS,S/AS02A malaria vaccine  told AMMREN.

Dr Cohen explains that they combined the RTS,S protein with novel Adjuvant Systems (ASs) developed by his colleagues at GSK.

                  Joe Cohen meets the mother of a Gabonese
                        RTS,S trial participant in Lambarene

Credit: John-Michael Maas, Darby Communications

“This helped optimize the immunogenicity of the antigen. Two of these RTS,S/AS combinations proved to be efficacious in clinical trials conducted first in adult volunteers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in the USA, then in African adults and finally in young children and infants in various studies conducted throughout sub-Saharan Africa.”

The RTS,S has however journeyed very far from Europe to Africa and has for the last 12 years, been in clinical development on the continent of Africa.

The co-inventor recounts that in 1984, SmithKline & French, the predecessor of GlaxoSmithKline, entered into collaboration with the WRAIR to develop a malaria vaccine.

“First, our work on RTS,S built upon the pioneering research performed in the laboratories of Drs Ruth and Victor Nussenzweig, at New York University in the USA. They identified the CSP as a likely protein candidate for a malaria vaccine.”

When in 1987 the management of GSK asked Dr Cohen to take over the leadership of GSK’s malaria vaccine project, he “ was awed by the scientific challenges that this project represented. But I was also inspired and motivated by the potential human and public health impact that an efficacious and safe malaria vaccine could have,” he says. 

Through hard work and exemplary leadership Dr Cohen is now GSK Biologicals’ Vice President of Research and Development, Vaccines for Emerging Diseases and HIV.

For the co-inventor of the RTS,S vaccine however, partnership was critical in giving birth and developing the vaccine.

“For more than ten years we have partnered with many leading African scientists, technicians, nurses and field workers.  Each site also has ties with European and US malaria research institutions. They have become our key partners in conducting multiple clinical trials in Africa. And last but not least, innumerable colleagues at GSK have worked continuously and tirelessly over more than 23 years on all aspects of the development of the RTS,S vaccine candidate,” he adds.

Touching on the final preparations for the birthing of the vaccine, Dr Cohen says the initial results of the Phase III trial are expected in late 2011.

“If all goes well and according to schedule we can hope for licensure of the vaccine for use in the principal target population, infants 6 to 12 weeks old, around 2014. Once official recommendations are made, broad scale introduction of the vaccine could be expected by as early as 2015,”

Dr Cohen is upbeat about building on the success of the vaccine, and adds,

 “There are hopes of second generation malaria vaccine following from the current research into the RTS,S vaccine.

“In the August 2006 Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap, the global health community set goals to develop a first-generation malaria vaccine with a protective efficacy of  50% by 2015 and a second-generation vaccine with a protective efficacy of  80% or more by 2025. RTS,S is on track to meet the first-generation target.”

He says GSK and many other researchers around the world are investigating second-generation malaria vaccine candidates in the hopes of further improving protective efficacy against malaria and meeting the international community’s second-generation target.

“There are some promising leads, but most of these are still in early stages of preclinical or initial clinical development,” he adds.

As a Co-inventor of the vaccine, Dr Cohen finds fulfilment in the work he has helped to sustain over the years.

 “I feel immensely fortunate to have been so closely associated with the development of the RTS,S/AS vaccine, which has the potential to have a huge impact on people’s lives in Africa.”

“I am anxiously awaiting the completion of the Phase III clinical trials and, hopefully, the vaccine’s licensure, recommendation and deployment on the ground. I sincerely hope that all stakeholders involved will collaborate closely to ensure that, once approved, this vaccine reaches those who need it most as quickly as possible.”

Editions: 
Sixth Edition