A malaria vaccine candidate is to enter human safety trials following animal studies that showed it protects against all strains of the malaria parasite.
UK scientists recently identified a single mechanism that the malaria parasite relies on to enter human red blood cells, according to BBC News.
"It revealed what we think is the parasite's Achilles heel in the way it invades our cells and provided a target for potential new vaccines," said co-author of the study Gavin Wright, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
Now, a team at Oxford University, United Kingdom, has harnessed this knowledge to design the new vaccine candidate, which proved successful in animal studies.
"We have found a way of making antibodies that kill all different strains of malaria parasites," Sandy Douglas from the University of Oxford told BBC News. "This is still early phase research in animals. The next step is to do clinical trials in people."
If the vaccine proves safe in humans, it could enter clinical trials within the next two to three years, said the Oxford team.
Early results from clinical trials of a vaccine candidate, RTS,S/AS01, in Africa show that it protects about half of people vaccinated from malaria. But scientists say that a more effective vaccine is needed.