AN Oxford-led study has identified the antibodies that may hold the key to creating the first effective vaccine against malaria infection in the blood.

Researchers from Oxford University, along with partners from five institutions around the world, have identified the human antibodies that prevent the malaria parasite from entering blood cells.

This may be key to creating a highly effective malaria vaccination.

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Study author, Simon Draper, Professor of Vaccinology and Translational Medicine at the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford University said:“The malaria parasite has a protein called RH5, which must bind to a human protein on red blood cells called basigin in order to infect them.

"In this study, we were able to demonstrate which human antibodies effectively block RH5 from binding with basigin, thus preventing the parasite from spreading through the blood.”

Another key finding of the study is the identification of a new antibody, which works by slowing down the speed in which RH5 binds to red blood cells.

The study was done in collaboration with researchers in Australia, America, Cambridge and Denmark.

The current vaccine based on RH5 has so far shown real promise, and continues to be trialled in the UK and Africa.

Results of the study were published this week in a journal called Cell.