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Alarm over funding drop in malaria vaccine research

Scientists are concerned that the EU is reducing funding for malaria vaccine research.

“Funding for malaria vaccines has been substantially reduced in the Seventh Framework Programme compared with earlier Framework Programmes, and without further support the gains made by earlier European investment will be lost,” say six scientists based in Denmark, Germany and the UK in an article in the Malaria Journal on 1 September.

The EU earmarked €17 million for 11 research projects on malaria vaccines under Framework 5, and about €20m for six projects under Framework 6.

This included a large project worth €13.5m and coordinated by one of the article’s authors, the European Malaria Vaccine Development Association.

But between 2007 and 2010, “only €7m was earmarked for malaria vaccine research” out of €80m for malaria research in general, the article claims.

The funding drop probably reflects optimism about clinical trials underway for a vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, the authors say, although “it is doubtful whether [this] vaccine will have any impact on reducing malaria transmission.

“It is […] critical that the [Commission] continues to build on the major advances in understanding immunity to malaria that have been achieved and on several successes in raising immunogenicity of candidate vaccines,” the article argues.