A malaria vaccine for children may be available as soon as next year.
A recent study released by PLOS Medicine and sponsored by GSK Biologicals, found that for every 1,000 children who received the vaccine, an average of 800 cases of illness could be prevented, BBC News reported.
"This is a milestone," Sanjeev Krishna of St George's University of London, who reviewed the paper, told the BBC.
More than 200 million cases of malaria occur worldwide every year, and more than 600,000 people -- mainly children living in sub-Saharan Africa -- die from the parasitic disease, according to the study.
The disease, which is contracted through the bites of infected mosquitoes, can cause high fever, chills, flu-like symptoms and severe anemia, and is particularly threatening for pregnant women and children. It can lead to lifelong intellectual disabilities in young people, according to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a group that's committed to putting an end to malaria.
Preventative measures, including insecticides and sleeping under insecticide-treated nets, has helped to reduce the cases of malaria by 45 percent among all age groups and by 51 percent among young children since 2000, according to the study.
However a vaccine will play a critical role in large areas of Africa where transmission rates remain high, according to the study.
The study was supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has made eradicating malaria one of its prime priorities.
The organization has committed nearly $2 billion in grants to combat the disease and more than $1.6 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria -- an international organization which provides about 50 percent of funding for malaria control worldwide.
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