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Last updated at 12:54 BST, Friday, 23 May 2014

Children aid malaria vaccine hunt

Summary

23 May 2014

A group of children in Africa who are naturally immune to malaria are helping scientists to develop a new vaccine. The US team published the results of their research in the journal Science.

Reporter:
Rebecca Morelle

A syringe filled with blood

Further tests in primates and humans are needed

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Report

In an area of Tanzania where malaria is rife, scientists have found a small group of children who are naturally resistant to the disease. Tests revealed that their immune system produces an antibody that attacks the malaria-causing parasite.

It traps the tiny organism in red blood cells, preventing it from bursting out and spreading throughout the body. The team found that injecting a form of this antibody into mice protected the animals from malaria.

The scientists say the results are encouraging but further trials in primates and humans are needed to fully assess the vaccine's promise.

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Vocabulary

rife

something unpleasant which is common

resistant

not affected or harmed by an illness

parasite

living thing which lives inside other larger living things and uses them for food

bursting out

breaking open and leaving; escaping

injecting

putting liquid inside a body using a needle

trials

tests

assess

decide the importance (of something)

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