24 Jan 2010

Scientists identify proteins to fight malaria

1:01 pm on 24 January 2010

Scientists seeking an effective vaccine against one of the world's biggest killer diseases - malaria - believe the answer could lie within the body's own immune system.

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne have studied years of research on malaria.

The ABC reports they have now identified a group of proteins that the body produces naturally after years of exposure to the malaria parasite which could form the basis of a vaccine.

However, more laboratory work and clinical trials need to be done, with a vaccine at least 10 years away.

Malaria kills more than one million people a year and is the biggest cause of death in children under the age of five, mostly in developing countries.

Institute laboratory head Dr James Beeson says it is a complex disease that is difficult to target with an effective vaccine.

He says it's been a major challenge to work out which stage of the life of the parasite would be the "best stage" to target.