A professor in the Biochemical Parasitology Department of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, has reportedly developed a new malaria vaccine in a bid to reduce the high death rate caused by malaria fever.
Professor Nasiru Shua’ibu, disclosed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria, Kaduna State on Tuesday, September 20, that his malaria vaccine was different from the others which are currently being used.
The professor who is working with the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Japan, explained that Nigerians would soon be privy to the results of the research being carried out on the new vaccine.
“In a simple term that a layman can understand, the content of this malaria vaccine research is difficult, but let me try if I could simplify it, it is called DNA Vaccine.
“It is a new technology for discovery and delivery of vaccine against any infectious disease that was developed in the early to mid-1990s.
“The DNA of the malaria parasite was extracted and the portion of the DNA that is tested to be a good vaccine candidate is subjected to molecular biology methods which are used to produce a lot of the DNA,” He said.
Shua’ibu revealed that Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is used to expand the quantity seeing as the amount of DNA from the malaria parasite is very minute.
“Then a method of cloning is now used to insert the DNA into a vehicle that will carry the DNA into either animal or human body.
“It is then injected into the body of the animal or human and it eventually enters the cells of the animal in the same way a virus enters and infects cells.
“The injected DNA now uses the cells in the body to produce chemicals that will prevent malaria from infecting the body,” Mr. Shu’aibu explained.
He went on to say that the vaccine is different from any of the licensed vaccines such as polio and other EPI vaccines, adding that although the approach used was also different from the other malaria vaccine (RTS,S/AS01) which was likely to be licensed, the goal of controlling and eventually eliminate malaria, is the same.
With an estimated population of over 170 million people, Nigeria makes up the highest malaria burden in Africa and the world in general.
Mr Shu’aibu also revealed his doubt that the figures from the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) indicated progress in containing the disease.
“I still doubt; the tools currently used to fight malaria are not sufficient to have a substantial and sustained impact that is needed to resolve the malaria crisis in Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Shu’aibu went on to say that there is a great need to monitor the growing resistance to anti-malarial drugs and insecticides and that without being checked and documented, it will jeopardise all the years put into global public health success and investments in containing malaria.