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Natural killer cells vs. macrophages

New knowledge about naturally acquired malaria immunity may improve vaccines, it is claimed.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have found an important difference between naturally acquired immunity and immunity following vaccination.

Professor Lars Hviid said: “The antibodies which the body produces when you have been infected with malaria look different from those produced by the body when you have been vaccinated. And that probably means that our immune system has a more efficient response when we have been naturally infected than when we are vaccinated against malaria.”

He added that with malaria the body launches what are called “natural killer cells”.

“Our study points to a new strategy for developing even better malaria vaccines in the future. Because, now, we know how the body mobilises the defence with natural killer cells, and we can imitate that with vaccines,” he said.

The team behind the work hopes that a future malaria vaccine will be developed that will be able to utilise natural killer cells instead of the macrophages that the current vaccines use.

go.nature.com/3wNsySk

Image credit |Shutterstock

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