Malaria Vaccine (1998)
Between two and three million people are killed each year by malaria. A vaccine for this deadly disease has been developed and is now in its trial stage.
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[Image changes to show a mosquito]
Narrator: Mosquito-borne malaria is one of the world’s major infectious diseases, killing around two to three million people each year and threatening around 40% of the world’s population mainly in developing countries, where resistance is low and resources scarce.
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But Australian scientists are working towards a solution for the killer problem.
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Malaria is transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, which usually feed on nectar. It’s only while the female is pregnant that she needs to feed on blood and if she bites someone carrying the malaria parasite Plasmodium, she’ll suck in the parasite with the blood.
[Image changes to show a computer generated sequence of the Plasmodium parasite travelling through a body]
Then as she pierces the skin of her next victim, the parasite enters the body through her saliva and fights its way into the liver, to multiply by the thousands, before bursting out to attack red blood cells. As the parasite multiplies in the red blood cells, the victim suffers fevers, chills and sweats and eventually kidney or liver failure and may fall into a coma.
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Sometimes the victims, particularly children, die as a result of severe anaemia or cerebral malaria.
Some people can be treated and survive, but many, like the Highland people of Papua New Guinea have little resistance.
[Image changes to show a scientist in a laboratory and then to a person being injected with the vaccine]
So scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, collaborating with scientists in Queensland and Papua New Guinea, have begun trialling a vaccine that they hope will offer them help.
[Image changes to Dr Robin Anders, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute]
Dr Robin Anders: The trials have been successful to the extent that they’ve been safe and in some cases the vaccines have induced immune responses and we’re looking towards now trials in the next year or so where we’ll be able to see whether these vaccines actually protect people from getting infected with malaria parasites and eventually whether the vaccines will protect them from getting sick.
[Image changes back to the people in the village talking with aid workers]
Narrator: If the trials are successful it will mean people from malaria prone countries, like Papua New Guinea and other developing countries will no longer have to fear the pain and loss of life that malaria brings.
[Image changes back to a mosquito, music plays and the words “sci files” flash on the screen with © 1999 CSIRO and the CSIRO logo at the bottom of the screen]