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Plasmodium falciparum

Most attempts at developing a vaccine for malaria — a disease that kills two million people a year — have targeted proteins that make up the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

But a study reported in this week's journal Nature suggests that a more successful approach might be to target the toxins released by the parasite.

Louis Schofield of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia and colleagues found that mice immunised against the GPI toxin were protected against many of the signs of malaria.

These results strongly suggest that GPI is responsible for some symptoms of malaria in humans, and that an anti-toxic vaccine could therefore be effective against malaria, the researchers say.

Link to Nature research paper by Schofield et al

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