The challenges of a circumsporozoite protein-based malaria vaccine

Chatterjee D, Cockburn IA

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2021 Feb 7:1-13.




A safe and effective vaccine will likely be necessary for the control or eradication of malaria which kills 400,000 annually. Our most advanced vaccine candidate to date is RTS,S which is based on the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP) of the malaria parasite. However, protection by RTS,S is incomplete and short-lived.


Areas covered

Here we summarize results from recent clinical trials of RTS,S and critically evaluate recent studies that aim to understand the correlates of protective immunity and why vaccine-induced protection is short-lived. In particular, recent systems serology studies have highlighted a key role for the necessity of inducing functional antibodies. In-depth analyses of immune responses to CSP in both mouse models and vaccinated humans have also highlighted difficulties in generating the maintaining high-quality antibody responses. Finally, in recent years biophysical and structural studies of antibody binding to PfCSP have led to a better understanding of how highly potent antibodies can block infection, which can inform vaccine design.


Expert Opinion

We highlight how both structure-guided vaccine design and a better understanding of the immune response to PfCSP can inform a second generation of PfCSP-based vaccines stimulating a broader range of protective targets within PfCSP.