London - GlaxoSmithKline said on Thursday it is applying for regulatory approval for the world's first vaccine against malaria, designed for use in children in Africa.
The British drugmaker said the shot, called RTS,S, is intended exclusively for use outside the European Union but will be evaluated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease, kills more than 600,000 people a year, mainly babies in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
Experts have long hoped that scientists would be able to develop an effective vaccine against the disease, and scientists at GSK have been working on this one for 30 years.
Yet hopes that RTS,S would be the final answer to wiping out malaria were dampened when results from a final-stage trial in babies aged six to 12 weeks showed the shot provided only modest protection, reducing episodes of the disease by 30 percent compared to immunisation with a control vaccine.