|Scientists have been working on a malaria vaccine for about 70 years. They haven't succeeded yet, in part because there simply hasn't been the funding to fight a disease that primarily affects the poor. As Bill Gates often points out, more money is spent on baldness drugs than on combating malaria.|
But funding is not the only challenge. All of the vaccines available to date fight off bacteria or viruses. None exist for parasites such as malaria, and parasites are significantly more complex creatures.
One vaccine called RTS,S has reached the most advanced stages of clinical trials yet, phase III. Scientists have demonstrated in previous trials that the vaccine is safe, and that it protects about 50 percent of those who take it. The final trial will soon begin at sites all over Africa, involving thousands of participants. If the vaccine continues to safely protect trial participants, the company will license and develop the vaccine and submit plans for long-term monitoring.
The vaccine is being developed by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals.
Reporter Megan Williams traveled to Gabon for the scheduled launch of the trial, but the trip didn't go exactly as planned. Listen to her story for more.