Human Genomics in Global Health

Global applications of genomics in healthcare: United Kingdom

Development of a heterologous prime-boost vaccine for malaria

Setting: research institute

Focus of intervention: patients and families/healthcare providers/community


A team of researchers from UK and USA are developing a vaccine to reduce the spread of malaria in Africa. The spread of malaria has not decreased in Africa, causing it to be a priority on the agenda of many medical researchers working to contain the epidemic. Traditional vaccines stimulate the body to produce antibodies against the antigen, which is recognized by the immune system as a foreign substance. However, malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis act within the cell, and thus, a new type of vaccine is needed to stimulate T-cells which will destroy malaria-infected cells.


Approximately 3,000 children die each day of malaria, particularly from the P. falciparum strain in Africa. The vaccine being developed contains two parts. The first component contained DNA from P. falciparum, after which the second component, a modified form of the Ankara virus, is administered.


The results have indicated a very strong immune response when the two components are given in their successive orders, as indicated by a greater T-cell (5-10 times more anti-malarial T-cells are produced) response rather than the antibody response from a traditional vaccine. According to studies, the use of both the P. falciparum DNA and the Ankara virus results in a greater T-cell response than the use of either component on its own. This vaccine is expected to reduce the risk of malaria infection by about 80%.