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Key to long-term malaria vaccine unlocked, say Australian researchers

Staff Writer |
Australian researchers from Queensland believe they have found the key behind developing a long-term vaccine for malaria.

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Scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute announced their results investigating how activating immune cells known as CD8+ T cells could protect against the disease.

"We compared two groups of mice," head of the Molecular Immunology Laboratory, Michelle Wykes said.

"The first was a control group. In the other group we activated the CD8+ T cells by removing a molecule that otherwise puts the brakes on this immune cell."

She noted that compared to the control group, the experimental group was much more resistant to the malaria.

"About five months later, the experimental group had lower levels of antibodies than the control group, but was still resistant to malaria," Wykes said.

"However, when we depleted their CD8+ immune cells, those same mice lost resistance to malaria."

Wykes noted it was the first time there had been evidence to show that CD8+ immune were crucial for protecting against blood stage malaria.

"In other words, we've found that antibodies on their own aren't enough to maintain protection against malaria."

The World Health Organization estimated malaria caused the death of 438,000 people and infected 214 million people worldwide in 2015.

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