Goats May Fight Off Malaria
By Chief Charles O. Okereke, Nigeria Masterweb
If materialism is anything to go by, Africa would boast of a widow's mite. Talk of diseases, conflicts and their resulting spiral negatives such as hunger, and Africa would display a lion share. Worldwide, malaria infects 300-500 million people every year, about one million die from this disease(WHO estimates). 270-450 million of the malaria cases occur in Africa. The global AIDS infection is estimated at 36 million. Sub Saharan Africa has a whooping 25.3 million cases. Sub Saharan Africa continues to bare the brunt of HIV and AIDS, its lion share of 90% of malaria infection and 70% of the global HIV-positive cases are alarming. Malaria and AIDS continue to fester in Sub-saharan Africa despite the fact that the diseases are in diminishing incidence in the other parts of the world. Unabated, the two deadly diseases would be capable of strangulating the entire economic system and culture of the region.
Two tough health battles raging in the front lines are AIDS and malaria prevention/cure. The AIDS war according to how one looks at it, is being fought well since there is at least one or two proven means of preventing it. Abstinence or the use of condom are the most effective preventive measures. Successes with curative measures in the treatment of malaria have been achieved. Known successes with preventive treatment are marginal or non existent.
Goats may bring to the world especially Africa light on the other side of the tunnel, if preliminary research findings are consistent. Advancements in genetic engineering have created the possibility for a malaria vaccine to be carried in goats' milk. A malaria vaccine so produced would be a fraction of the cost of manufacturing the same in the laboratory. It all started at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Bethesda, MD, U.S. Dr Stowers(chief of NIAID's Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases), Louis Miller, M.D.(director of NIAID's Malaria Vaccine Development Unit), and other investigators from NIAID produced two transgenic mouse strains. The mouse strains both carried a form of the gene for a surface protein from Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite. The scientists designed the transgenes to be switched on by cells that line the mammary glands, this ensured the resulting proteins secreted into the mammal's milk.
Large volume of the desired vaccine protein was produced by both mouse strains. A purified form of the vaccine was used to vaccinate monkeys against malaria. Four of the five immunized animals were protected from the disease. By comparison, six out of seven unvaccinated animals had to be treated for virulent malaria. Preliminary results of using the same technique in goats, is very promising, and suggests the procedure would work well in larger animals.
The use of transgenic animals as demonstrated, offers a far more practical option for large-scale cheap vaccine production. A herd of several goats could conceivably produce enough vaccine for all of Africa. Apparently goats are bringing to the world especially Africa good new year tidings from their milk, and this justifies the imperativeness of our ecosystem. We are all important whether big or small, two legged or four legged, and otherwise. Who knows, transgenic animals might also find cure and prevention for HIV..
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