Recently, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute have confirmed that monoclonal antibodies can be an effective tool in the global fight against malaria.

The study, led by Dr. Sheetij Dutta, the chief of the Structural Vaccinology Laboratory at WRAIR, showed that monoclonal antibody (mAb) CIS43 displayed the best anti-malaria effect in the laboratory. The analysis measured the ability of Plasmodium to infect human hepatocytes. Another monoclonal antibody 317 showed the best activity in the mouse infection model. “The differences of mAbs test results may reflect different sites on malaria proteins and can be used to develop improved vaccines,” Dutta added.

Although malaria vaccine research has been going on for decades, current vaccine candidates have shown low efficacy in clinical trials in several African countries. Now, many researchers from around the world are focusing their attention on monoclonal antibodies against the parasite’s cyclosporin.

The protective response of the vaccine may require multiple doses and take months to develop, but unlike the vaccine, monoclonal antibodies can provide protection for several months immediately after a single injection. At the same time, the cost of developing monoclonal antibodies is only a fraction of that of new drug development.

“This is a critical study that will help guide us in the isolation of uniquely specific and active monoclonal antibodies from ongoing FMP013 and FMP014 malaria clinical trials,” added Dr. Jason Regules, the chief of WRAIR’s Malaria Biologics Branch.