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The role of Plasmodium falciparum variant surface antigens in protective immunity and vaccine development

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There is substantial immuno-epidemiological evidence that the parasite-encoded, so-called variant surface antigens (VSAs), such as PfEMP1 on the surface of infected erythrocytes (IEs) are important-in some cases probably decisive determinants of clinical outcome of P. falciparum malaria. The evidence is increasingly being underpinned by specific molecular understanding of the pathogenic processes involved. Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) caused by placenta-sequestering IEs expressing the PfEMP1 variant VAR2CSA is a particularly striking example of this. These findings have raised hopes that development of PfEMP1-based vaccines to protect specifically against severe malaria syndromes-in particular PAM-is feasible. This review summarizes the evidence that VSAs are important targets of NAI, discusses why VSA-based vaccines might be feasible despite the extensive intra- and interclonal variation of VSAs, and how vaccines based on this type of antigens fit into the current global strategy to reduce, eliminate and eventually eradicate the burden of malaria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Vaccines
Volume6
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)84-9
Number of pages6
ISSN1554-8600
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

ID: 32236143