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25 April 2014 – World Malaria Day

23 Apr 2014 | By Inserm (Newsroom) | International day

According to WHO, malaria in pregnant women (Pregnancy Associated Malaria) constitutes a major public health problem, involving substantial risks for the mother and foetus, and hence the newborn. The main consequences of infection with Plasmodium falciparum are a malaria-related pathology in the mother and low birth weight in the infant, an important factor in infant mortality.

Each year, more than 100 million pregnant women are at risk of Pregnancy Associated Malaria, which causes 80,000 to 200,000 infant deaths.

At present, the only prevention strategies available for the mother and foetus are intermittent preventive treatment (IPT), and the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets. However, these strategies are being compromised by the development of resistance to IPTs and insecticides by the parasite. 

The challenge for researchers is thus to develop a specific vaccine which would be administered to young girls prior to their first pregnancy.

The PRIMALVAC project, launched in 2011 and coordinated by Benoît Gamain (Research Director at Inserm Unit 1134, “Integrated biology of the red blood cell”), is aimed at evaluating the immunogenicity of a candidate vaccine employing the var2CSA antigen to protect young women before their first pregnancy.

The phase I clinical trial is being prepared, and is expected to start in 2015. Inserm and the Cochin-Pasteur Clinical Investigation Center in Vaccinology will provide sponsorship and coordination for the project’s clinical trial.

The main objective of this phase I trial is to evaluate the safety and tolerance of the vaccine in humans, along with its ability to induce a protective immune response, enabling pregnant women to be protected against gestational malaria in future.

The PRIMALVAC project is coordinated by EVI (European Vaccine Initiative, and has received financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Inserm, the French National Institute of Blood Transfusion (INTS), and from Irish Aid via EVI.

Further information:

Benoît Gamain
Research fellow at Inserm Unit 1134, “Integrated Biology of the Red Blood Cell”
+33 (0)1 44 49 31 46

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Benoît Gamain
Directeur de recherche au sein de l’Unité Inserm 1134 « Biologie intégrée du globule rouge »
01 44 49 31 47

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