Disappointing clinical trial results for GSK’s malaria vaccine
GlaxoSmithKline’s experimental malaria vaccine, RTS,S, has proved only 30% effective when administered to babies, as part of Africa’s largest ever clinical trial. There is a lot of pressure on GSK’s vaccine, as it has the potential to be the world’s first vaccine against malaria, a disease which kills hundreds of thousands of children every year.
The clinical trial involved over 6,500 babies aged six to 12 weeks for one year and showed that the vaccine protected 30% from developing malaria symptoms compared to immunisation with a control vaccine. However, a smaller clinical trial back in 2008 that tested babies of a similar age for six months, found this efficacy rate to be 65% – meaning the efficacy has dropped by less than half and further development may be needed before GSK can file for approval to get the vaccines widely distributed.
“This is an important scientific milestone and needs more study. The efficacy came back lower than we had hoped, but developing a vaccine against a parasite is a very hard thing to do. The trial is continuing and we look forward to getting more data to help determine whether and how to deploy this vaccine.”
Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill &, Melinda Gates Foundation.
Despite the partial success, GSK has said it will push ahead with developing the vaccine and GSK’s CEO Sir Andrew Witty believes it will still be an important tool in fighting malaria.
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