Australian researchers are a step closer to developing a vaccine against malaria, a statement said on Friday.
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Researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered a way to stop the malaria parasite invading healthy red blood cells, Xinhua news agency reported.
Professor Alan Cowman who led the study said in the statement that the malaria parasite could not penetrate a human red blood cell when key proteins were deleted.
"These findings hold great promise for understanding the function of these proteins and their development as vaccines," Cowman said.
"Developing new vaccines for malaria is a global research priority."
It was noted that approximately half the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria each year, with more than 200 million people infected.
Researchers also noted that existing anti-malarial drugs were becoming less effective as the malaria parasite developed resistance to treatments.
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The disease kills up to 450,000 people each year, mainly children aged under five.