Malaria has always been a scourge for humans in tropical climates. It has never been possible to develop vaccines against it because it is caused by parasites rather than bacteria or a virus. Now there seems to be a significant advance in protecting young children.
Experts say the world's first malaria vaccine could be approved for use in 2015.It isn't as effective a vaccines for diseases like measles or polio. It makes substantial reductions in the number of infections rather than preventing all of them. It also requires booster shots every 18 months. However, this is a big advance over anything that has ever been available before.
Reporting in PLOS Medicine, researchers found that for every 1,000 children who received the vaccine, an average of 800 cases of illness could be prevented.
And in continuing trials it went on to provide protection some 18 months after the injections were given.
Manufacturers GSK have now applied for regulatory approval - making this the first vaccine to reach this step.