Mosquito saliva vaccine? NIH tests new way to fight multiple diseases

Posted at 3:18 PM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 16:02:41-05

Researchers are testing a new vaccine they hope will protect humans from a variety of mosquito-transmitted illnesses, including malaria, Zika and West Nile.

But instead of targeting a specific illness, this vaccine protects against the mosquito itself — its saliva, to be exact.


Scientists at the National Institutes of Health are launching a clinical trial of this new vaccine, called AGS-v.

According to researchers, the vaccine is intended to "trigger an immune response" to a mosquito's saliva.

Here's how the NIH says the vaccine works. AGS-v is made up of four synthetic proteins from mosquito salivary glands. 

Those proteins should trigger a modified allergic reaction. That will help block potential infection if a person is bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito. 

Researchers are starting a phase-one trial of the vaccine, which is the earliest step in human tests. And if it's successful, it could help save hundreds of thousands of lives.

According to the World Health Organization, mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Malaria alone killed more than 430,000 people in 2015.

As one NIH official said in a press release, "A single vaccine capable of protecting against the scourge of mosquito-borne diseases is a novel concept that, if proven successful, would be a monumental public health advance."

The phase-one clinical trial is expected to wrap up in 2018.