A NEW Oxford study is looking for people willing to be injected with malaria to help advance research into a cure for the deadly disease which kills 400,000 people each year.

The Jenner Institute, based in Headington, wants anyone aged between 18 and 50 who is in good health, and has not had malaria or travelled to a region in the last six months where the disease is endemic.

The two-year trial will see volunteers, who will be reimbursed up to £6,885, be injected up to three times with the usually mosquito-borne disease.

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An introduction to the study on the institute's website states: "There is a great need for a safe, effective malaria vaccine as the range of malaria medicines is limited and drug resistance is increasing."

It goes on to explain the trial will deal with Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax), which is the second commonest type of malaria parasite but which is hard to grow and manipulate in the laboratory so there is limited understanding of how it infects human red blood cells.

Oxford Mail:

Volunteers will be experimentally infected with malaria on up to three separate occasions, each time by receiving an injection of a tiny amount of red blood containing the P. vivax parasites.

This is called a 'blood-stage challenge' and will help develop the understanding of P. vivax malaria, as well as allow researchers to establish a method that will be used to test out potential future vaccines.

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The trial's website adds: "Ultimately, in order to test whether a potential new vaccine works, we need to be able to 'challenge' vaccinated volunteers with P. vivax malaria infection. We can do this by deliberately infecting volunteers who have been vaccinated, then observing to see if they are protected from malaria infection, or if they develop infection more slowly than volunteers who have not been vaccinated."

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It said there is 'considerable experience' performing this type of study with the commonest form of malaria, P. falciparum, but within Europe this sort of deliberate infection has not previously been carried out with P. vivax malaria, although the method has been safely conducted in Australia.

The first phase of the study took place in January with six volunteers to assess dosage. For more information visit jenner.ac.uk/vac069.