, Volume 98, Issue 5, pp 1983-1990

Developing inexpensive malaria vaccines from plants and algae

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Malaria is a parasitic, mosquito-borne, infectious disease that threatens nearly half of the global population. The last decade has seen a dramatic drop in the number of malaria-related deaths because of vector control methods and anti-malarial drugs. Unfortunately, this strategy is not sustainable because of the emergence of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and drug-resistant Plasmodium parasites. Eradication of malaria will ultimately require low-cost easily administered vaccines that work in concert with current control methods. Low cost and ease of administration will be essential components of any vaccine, because malaria endemic regions are poor and often lack an adequate healthcare infrastructure. Recently, several groups have begun addressing these issues using inexpensive photosynthetic organisms for producing vaccine antigens and exploring oral delivery strategies. Immune responses from plant-based injectable malaria vaccines are promising, but attempts to adapt these for oral delivery suggest we are far from a feasible strategy. Here, we review examples of these technologies and discuss the progress and potential of this research, as well as the obstacles ahead.