A female Anopheles albimanus mosquito - a vector of malaria, predominantly in Central America (Photo: James Gathany)
There were 247 million cases of malaria and 881,000 deaths worldwide from the disease in 2006, making it one of the world’s most common infectious diseases and an enormous public health problem, particularly in poverty stricken areas. We’ve previously looked at various proposals to fight the disease, from targeting the mosquitoes that spread it, to research into a possible vaccine. Now researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, working in collaboration with researchers from the US, Japan and Canada, have renewed hopes by creating a weakened strain of the malaria parasite that will be used as a live vaccine against the disease. Human trials will begin in 2010.