malaria vaccine

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Gates-funded ‘breakthrough’ malaria vaccine now disappoints | 

Photo by Caitlin Kleiboer

Testing the RTS/S malaria vaccine in Malawi

The world’s largest clinical trial of an experimental malaria vaccine, largely funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the vaccine maker GlaxoSmithKline, has produced disappointing results – again.

It shouldn’t be too surprising.

The study has been producing the same disappointing results for many years now. It’s just been emphasized as progress before, with those supporting the work at the Gates Foundation and at the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative usually characterizing the vaccine’s protection rate of about 30 percent as proof of concept or as an encouraging step forward.

For example, here’s a Google News shot of how last year’s similar findings — of 30 percent protection — were characterized in the media:

Google News on the malaria vaccine

These stories were over-the-top, so I felt compelled to write Three Reasons Why We Should Not Get So Excited.

On the flip side of that coin, maybe we shouldn’t be too disappointed now.  Continue reading

Seattle Biomed gets $9m from Gates to boost malaria vaccine work | 

Luke Timmerman of Xconomy reports today that Seattle Biomed, a global leader in malaria research thanks to funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has gotten a boost.

In the article, Timmerman notes that the $9 million grant is aimed at supporting a “systems biology” approach to identify new immune system targets for candidate vaccines. In that sense, it is also a Gates grant aimed at supporting the work of Alan Aderem, who is moving his lab there from Lee Hood’s Institute for Systems Biology:

Seattle Biomed made a push in the direction of systems biology—which seeks to study whole biological organisms in context, rather than one gene or protein in isolation—last month. The nonprofit recruited Aderem, the co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, to help infuse its global health research efforts with this bold brand of science.