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Japanese researchers: New vaccine reduces malaria infection by 72 percent

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A team of Japanese researchers say they have developed a vaccine that cuts the risk of malaria developing in humans by more than two-thirds.

The disease, which is carried by parasite-bearing mosquitoes, kills around 650,000 people each year, mostly African children under five, according to the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO).

While there are a number of preventative medicines already in use, scientists say drug-resistance is growing.

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Researchers from Osaka University have developed a dry powder vaccine, called BK-SE36, from a genetically-modified protein found inside the parasite, which they mixed with aluminum hydroxyl gel.

“The vaccine’s effect is greater than those hitherto reported of any other antimalaria vaccines,” a statement issued this week said, adding BK-SE36 is expected to reduce markedly the number of deaths caused by the mosquito-borne disease.

The vaccine has already undergone trials on adults in Japan and was also tested in a malaria-endemic area in northern Uganda between 2010 and 2011. Neither study found any safety problems.

A follow-up study of people in Uganda, aged between six and 20, found the vaccine lowered the number of people infected by malaria by 72 percent.

The findings were published on Tuesday on the online US science journal PLOS One, according the statement.

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BK-SE36 far outperformed the 31 percent decline achieved by another new vaccine developed by a British company, the statement said.

Professor Toshihiro Horii, who led the study, told Jiji Press he wants to put BK-SE36 to practical use “in five years after conducting a clinical trial on infants between zero and five, who account for the bulk of malaria deaths.”

The study came as a non-profit group said Friday it was launching a project to comb the catalogues of some of Japan’s biggest drug companies in the hunt for treatments for diseases that kill thousands of people every year.

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The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), set up by the Japanese government, Japanese pharma companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said they were looking at a potential five-year commitment of more than $100 million to support research and development into neglected diseases.

The project will see researchers looking through the libraries of compounds held by drug companies to see what possible treatments they contain for tuberculosis, malaria, and other illnesses that threaten hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.

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The announcement was made on the sidelines of the five-yearly Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) which will see Japan welcome heads of government from up to 40 African countries.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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