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Nigerian Scientist Develops New Vaccine to Battle Malaria

The unrelenting effort on malaria of both Nigerian and foreign scientists may soon be yielding good fruit as a professor in the Biochemical Parasitology Department of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Nasiru Shua’ibu has developed a new vaccine to prevent high rate of death from the parasite.
Mr. Shu’aibu, who is currently working with the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Japan, said the result of the research on the new vaccine would soon be out for Nigerians to use.
The professor while speaking with newsmen in Zaria, Kaduna State on Tuesday, said the new malaria vaccine was different from others currently in use.
“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,” Mr. Shu’aibu said.
According to him, the amount of DNA from the malaria parasite was very minute in quantity and to expand the quantity, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was used.
“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 said.
He said the vaccine was different from any of the licensed vaccines like polio and other EPI vaccines.
Mr. Shu’aibu added that the approach was also different from the other malaria vaccine (RTS,S/AS01) that was likely to be licensed but the goals were the same, to control and eventually eliminate malaria.
Nigeria, with an estimated population of over 170 million, constitutes the highest malaria burden in Africa and in the world.
Mr. Shu’aibu doubted the figures from the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) indicating 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 said the need to monitor the growing resistance to anti-malarial drugs and insecticides.
He said if not checked and documented, it would jeopardise years of global public health success and investments in malaria control.

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