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Genetically Engineered Malaria Parasites May Help Prevent Infection in Humans

Using genetically engineered live Plasmodium falciparum parasites, a team led by scientists from the University of Washington have developed a malaria vaccine that appears to protect healthy individuals against the disease for at least a month. The work, which is described in this week's Science Translational Medicine, may lead to the development of an effective attenuated malaria vaccine. The scientists previously developed a genetically attenuated strain of P. falciparum — called PfGAP3KO — and showed its safety and immunogenicity in humans. In the latest study, the group tested whether a vaccine based on PfGAP3KO could prevent controlled malaria infection in people. The vaccine was given to 16 healthy volunteers as either three or five immunizations administered via mosquitos infected with PfGAP3KO. The vaccine was well-tolerated, with minimal side effects and no breakthrough infections. A month after the final immunization, the volunteers were exposed to bites from mosquitos with fully infectious P. falciparum. Half of the study participants showed no evidence of the parasite's RNA in their blood after 28 days and one participant showed complete protection when they were exposed to the parasite six months later. The results, the study's authors write, establish a proof of concept for the vaccination strategy and support further evaluation in dose range-finding studies with an injectable formulation.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.