Bill and Melinda Gates announce breakthrough in malaria fight



Posted on October 18, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

Imagine brushing your teeth, fixing your hair, or opening a can of pop without your own hands.

Three years ago, Dawn Dubsky was studying abroad in Africa when she was bitten by a mosquito. Back at home, she went to the ER. Ravaged by the malaria parasite, dawn woke up a month later - a quadruple amputee.

"My parents had chosen to amputate my limbs to save my life,” she said.

Yet Dawn considers herself lucky to be alive. In Africa, a child dies from malaria every 45 seconds. That's why there is so much excitement over the latest clinical results for a new vaccine.

"It is phenomenal that we've shown that a vaccine can have an effect against malaria in a large phase three trial,” said Bill Gates.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is hosting the 2011 Malaria Forum in Seattle this week.

The GlaxoSmithKline vaccine is called RTSS and was tested on more than 15,000 children in seven African countries.

"If RTSS continues to show a long term effect in the 40-50 percent range, above and beyond bed nets, then it has the potential to protect millions of children and save thousands of lives,” said Gates.

The vaccine could be available by 2015.

At same time, the shot is only 50 percent effective, which means half of those vaccinated will still get the infection.

While the breakthrough comes too late for Dawn, she's taking steps to do just that. Her nonprofit America Against Malaria is her way of fighting back against a disease that nearly took her life.

Other malaria-fighting efforts in the pipeline:

  • A new oral medication that could be approved by 2016
  • A new compound that is 1,000 times stronger than DEET
  • And research to come up with even better vaccines.

All of these projects have received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

More information

Remarks from Melinda Gates

CDC Statement on Malaria Vaccine Trial

Roll Back Malaria

Can Social Media End Malaria? Can You?