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Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute

Podcast #1 | 17 September 2021

Scientists Discover New Targets for Transmission-Blocking Vaccines

We're used to thinking of vaccines for individual protection. But what about a malaria jab to protect the mosquito? Learn more about transmission-blocking vaccines for malaria and the parasite proteins that could be used in one.

Finding antigens for a transmission-blocking vaccine to target is a tough job - only two have reached clinical trials. Though given to humans, these vaccines aim to disrupt the malaria lifecycle in the mosquito, and scientists have now found that Pf77 and male development gene 1 (PfMDV-1) could be potential candidates. In the lab, mice immunised with these antigens successfully developed antibodies against them. Researchers then isolated these antibodies from the mice and fed them to mosquitoes - along with malaria parasites - to test if they can inhibit parasite development. Indeed, they reduced the number of oocysts - the form of the parasite containing transmissible sporozoites - by up to 93%. And when researchers looked in Ghanaian adults naturally exposed to malaria, they found antibodies to these proteins, suggesting natural exposure could boost responses elicited by vaccination.

Plasmodium falciparum Pf77 and male development gene 1 as vaccine antigens that induce potent transmission-reducing antibodies

Image Credit | Abhai Tripathi