By Gillian Tsoi
The first clinical trial of a vaccine for malaria is to be carried out in Ireland.
Scientists hope that the trial will determine whether the vaccine is safe and will produce an immunological response to malaria.
It is the only clinical trial of an interventional vaccine currently being carried out in Ireland, and is the first clinical trial of its kind to be conducted in Ireland.
The trial is being conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in collaboration with the Jenner Institute at Oxford University in the UK.
Malaria is an infectious disease characterised by cycles of chills, fever and sweating. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female mosquito.
The disease is a massive global public health problem, killing approximately 1.24 million people every year.
Victims of the disease are predominantly children under the age of five, who live in Africa. However, about half of the world's population is at risk of infection.
Professor Sam McConkey, of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at the RCSI said: "Malaria parasites are becoming resistant to today's drugs, which has complicated the treatment of malaria and created a need for expensive multi-drug therapy. In low income countries where malaria is endemic, expensive multi-drug therapy is often not an available treatment option so there is a need for new preventative treatments."
The research is being carried out at the RCSI's Clinical Research Centre at Beaumont Hospital as part of the new joint Academic Health Centre (AHC) with Connolly Hospital.
Eighteen people have already volunteered for a pre-enrolment health check-up, and nine people have begun the study.
Additional healthy adults, who have not had malaria, are needed. Each volunteer will receive of payment of between €300 and €400 for their participation.
Anyone interested in finding out more can visit the RCSI website at www.rcsi.ie/tropmedresearch or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first results from the trial - which is funded by the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI), a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) - are expected later this year.