British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline is seeking approval to market the world’s first malaria vaccine, after trials showed that it significantly cut cases of the disease in children.
Results from latest clinical trial of the RTS,S vaccine were unveiled at a conference in Durban, South Africa on Tuesday.
It showed that after 18 months of follow-up, the vaccine halved the number of malaria cases in young children and reduced the number of cases in infants by about 25 percent.
The trials were conducted on 15,000 infants and young children in seven African countries.
The drugmaker said in a statement that it plans to submit an application for the vaccine to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It said that the World Health Organization may recommend use of the vaccine starting in 2015, if the EMA gives the vaccine a positive scientific opinion.
The RTS,S vaccine is being developed along with the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, with grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
GSK says that once approved the vaccine will be priced at the manufacturing cost plus a margin of five percent that would be reinvested for research into future malaria vaccines.
The World Health Organization reports that malaria kills up to 800,000 people a year, with most deaths occurring among children in Africa.