Malaria is one of the most important parasitic diseases of man. Efforts to reduce the prevalence and continued geographic spread of this disease by chemotherapy and spraying with insecticides to eradicate the mosquito vector have been hindered by the emergence of resistant strains of both parasite and vector. Recent advances in the identification and characterization of antigens associated with different stages of the parasite life cycle offer new opportunities for vaccination as a strategy for disease control. This article surveys current knowledge of the properties of candidate antigens for stage-specific malaria vaccines, describes progress in cloning the genes for these molecules and outlines current concepts regarding the feasibility of disease control by vaccination.
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