The Malaria Vaccine Symposium occurred at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, USA on April 25th, 2017, coinciding with World Malaria Day and the WHO announcement that the RTS,S malaria vaccine would begin pilot implementation programs in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi in 2018. Scientists from several disciplines reported progress on an array of malaria vaccine concepts and product candidates, including pre-erythrocytic vaccines that prevent infection, blood-stage vaccines that limit infection and disease, and transmission-blocking vaccines that interrupt the spread of infection. Other speakers highlighted the immunological and genetic considerations that must be addressed by vaccinologists to yield the most efficacious vaccines. Here, we highlight the advances in malaria vaccinology that were reported at the symposium.
New strategies are urgently needed to stem the malaria tide that causes hundreds of millions of clinical cases and claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year.1 Although individual protective measures for mosquito control (bednets, insecticides, and repellants) are being prioritized in endemic areas, the elimination of the disease is unlikely to be achieved in many areas without a vaccine. Malaria vaccines have long been a research priority, but only this year the World Health Organization announced that a malaria vaccine would advance to implementation studies. To highlight progress and recent advances in this field, Prof. Fidel Zavala (Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and Dr. Robert Seder (Chief of the Cellular Immunology Section in the Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health), invited leading scientists around the world to share the most recent updates from their research at the Malaria Vaccine Symposium. In this meeting report, we highlight the progress on different malaria vaccine concepts (Table 1), as well as on immunologic and genetic findings that may impact malaria vaccine responses and efficacy.