Chennai: Fogging and using mosquito coils and nets are only a few among various methods many use to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
However, the menace continues to prevail, causing diseases like malaria and dengue. Therefore, as a means to check malaria transmission, a team of scientists from New Orleans, USA, has invented a vaccine targeting the sexual development of malaria parasites in the mosquito vector.
Vector-borne diseases account for 17 per cent of the estimated global burden of all infectious diseases, according to reports of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and are a major public health problem, particularly in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Some of these diseases are fatal if not treated, while others leave patients disfigured and disabled.
The vaccine created by the team of scientists, which has completed the pre-clinical trial (animal experimenting), will induce an immune response comprising of antibodies. “When a mosquito bites a human being, it will pick up parasites mixed along with the antibodies.
The antibodies will prevent the parasites from further developing,” said head of the team, Prof. Nirbhay Kumar, Professor of Tropical Medicine and Director of the Vector Borne Infectious Diseases centre, Tulane University, New Orleans, US, at the sidelines of the 13th conference on vector and vector borne diseases, jointly organized by the National Academy of Vector Borne Diseases, with the Central University of Tamil Nadu.
“Over the course of 20 years of working on this vaccine, we have found that the vaccine induced immunity is able to prevent parasite transmission in mosquitoes by over 95 per cent,” he added.
As the team is now seeking collaboration with industries to take it to clinical trials – which include three phases – they are hopeful that the effectiveness is seen even as the trial size increases.
“So many are today infected and dying from malaria, which is a controllable disease waiting to be eliminated. We hope for the vaccine to help in the same,” he stated.
School kids should be involved in keeping vector borne disease under control
While vector borne diseases account for a large percentage of deaths globally, involvement from the entire community is the need of the hour, opined Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and secretary of the department of health research, Government of India, during the 13th conference on vector and vector borne diseases, jointly organised by the National Academy of Vector Borne Diseases, with the Central University of Tamil Nadu.
Calling for the involvement of all citizens, especially schoolchildren, to keep vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue under control in India, she said that their involvement is crucial for the sustainable control of these diseases, which are growing threats to public health in both urban and rural areas.