Why vaccination against malaria quickly loses its protective effect

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) studied the human immune response after immunization with the malaria pathogen Plasmodium falciparum. Their goal was to find out against which protein components the T helper cells induced in this way are directed. To the researchers’ surprise, the T helper cells reacted exclusively to the protein sequence of the vaccine strain and showed hardly any cross-reactivity with the naturally occurring pathogen variants. This could explain why natural infections, to which people in endemic areas are constantly exposed, offer little protection against new diseases with other strains, and why the effect of the vaccination available to date lasts only a short time.

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