Why is there still no vaccine against malaria?
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite – an organism more evolved than a virus or bacteria – with an extremely complex life cycle.
Unlike many other diseases for which extremely effective vaccines have been developed, such as measles, humans are never completely immune to the malaria parasite.
For this reason, the development of a vaccine against malaria is a huge challenge, but it is also an urgent goal – every 2 minutes a child still dies with malaria in the world. At the Institute of Molecular Medicine João Lobo Antunes (iMM) we try to contribute to the solution of this problem using two totally different approaches.
On the one hand we try to understand this complex organism, discover its Achilles heels and then use it to combat the infection.
On the other hand, develop a new approach to vaccination against malaria. Our revolutionary idea is to use a rodent malaria parasite, disguised as a human parasite, capable of deceiving the immune system of the vaccinated person and causing him/her to fight the latter. Our results are very promising, but we know we still have a long way to go.
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