Study: New Antibody Treatment Tested for Malaria

A new study conducted in the Kalifabougou and Torodo villages of Mali found that a one-time dose of an experimental malaria antibody treatment can protect adults from the disease for at least six months.

Study: New Antibody Treatment Tested for Malaria
Image credit: Marek Piwnicki / Unsplash

Facts

  • A new study conducted in the Kalifabougou and Torodo villages of Mali found that a one-time dose of an experimental malaria antibody treatment can protect adults from the disease for at least six months.
  • With the World Health Organization's (WHO) new malaria vaccine for children requiring four doses and only 30% effective, scientists hope the new lab-made, one-dose antibodies will provide an immediate amount of protection instead of relying on the body's immune system.
  • The antibody treatment works by disrupting the life cycle of the disease-causing parasite. Out of 330 people, infections were detected in 20 who got a high dose, 39 who got a low dose, and 86 who got the placebo, with the high and low doses 86% and 75% effective, respectively.
  • The treatment, developed by the US National Institutes of Health, was administered intravenously, which is harder to inoculate on a large scale. However, it shows a positive outlook on an easier-to-administer shot version currently being tested for all ages.
  • The antibodies, which target immature parasites before they enter the liver, could last during the several months of a malaria season and may eventually cost as little as $5 per child, per season.
  • Malaria killed more than 620K people in 2020 while sickening 241M — mainly children under five in Africa.

Sources: Dnyuz, Washington Post, LA Times, Health Wusf, and Abc.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Medical Express. This study is a massive development for millions of Africans — including children and pregnant women — as well as travelers to the continent. The first treatments have already shown profound efficacy, and researchers are now looking into developing shots. This could be a massive breakthrough in providing relief across malaria hot spots.
  • Narrative B, as provided by MedPage. While this news is certainly a cause for celebration, many issues must be dealt with before we can begin thinking about distributing antibodies as an anti-malarial treatment. It still takes too long to administer this drug intravenously, and children still need to be tested. Cautious optimism is warranted, but there's a long way to go.

Predictions