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Plasmodium falciparum infection can interfere with the immune response to BK-SE36 malaria vaccine

27 April 2023

Malaria remains a major health challenge, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where children under five face the greatest risk of mortality. The BK-SE36 vaccine candidate based on the recombinant form of SERA5 N-terminal domain (SE36) targets blood-stage P. falciparum and aims to protect against clinical malaria. The SEmalvac consortium, coordinated by the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI), have assessed BK-SE36 in a phase I trial in children aged 12-60 months in Burkina Faso, where the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate was demonstrated[1].

A secondary study was conducted to investigate whether malaria infection at the time of vaccination could interfere with the vaccine-induced immune response. Results indicated that concomitant infection by P. falciparum during BK-SE36 vaccine candidate administration is associated with reduced humoral responses.

These findings confirm the immunosuppressive role of P. falciparum and the low response caused by parasite infection when the BK-SE36 malaria vaccine candidate is administered. The study also supports the need to explore whether clearing of pre-existing infections before vaccination could improve immune responses and potential vaccine efficacy.

Read the full publication:

Tiono, Alfred & Palacpac, Nirianne & Bougouma, Edith & Nebie, Issa & Ouedraogo, Alphonse & Houard, Sophie & Arisue, Nobuko & D'Alessio, Flavia & Horii, Toshihiro & Sirima, Sodiomon. (2023). Plasmodium falciparum infection coinciding with the malaria vaccine candidate BK-SE36 administration interferes with the immune responses in Burkinabe children. Frontiers in Immunology. 14. 1119820. 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1119820. ➡️


[1] Blood-stage malaria vaccine candidate BK-SE36 shown to be safe and immunogenic in children, European Vaccine Initiative, 05 September, 2022.

This work was supported by the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (G2014-109)

Photo credit: Photo by Hanna Morris on Unsplash


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