Boost For Malaria Vaccine Development By Combining Strengths Of Dutch, American Researchers

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Malaria Vaccine

Top Institute Pharma announces a highly promising research project that is aimed at the development of a malaria vaccine. This TI Pharma project will be an expansion of important findings from previous studies. The project aims to develop a highly protective malaria vaccine that would save the lives of millions of people in developing countries, especially infants and children. No malaria vaccine is currently commercially available, despite several decades of research. Multiple drugs have been developed to treat malaria infections. However, increasing numbers of both drug-resistant parasites and insecticide-resistant mosquitoes make the fight against malaria more and more difficult. As a result an efficacious vaccine is urgently needed. The United Nations recognizes this urgency and has made limiting malaria by 2015 a millennium goal.

The TI Pharma project has a budget of 16 million Euros ($US 23.6 million) over 4 years and will be carried out by a consortium that includes the American biotechnology company Sanaria Inc. of Rockville, Maryland, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre and Leiden University Medical Center. Sanaria Inc. is exclusively dedicated to the production of a vaccine against malaria.

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Malaria is one of the most prevalent infections in tropical and subtropical areas. The disease is caused by mosquito-transmitted protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Each year, malaria affects at least 300 million and kills at least 1 million people, principally in developing countries. Plasmodium falciparum infection produces the most lethal form of the disease and accounts for the majority of deaths.

Stephen Hoffman, CEO of Sanaria Inc. explains, "Humans are infected when malaria parasites are introduced by the bite of mosquitoes carrying these parasites. The illness results from the growth of the parasite in the blood. Sanaria's primary vaccine candidate is composed of parasites treated with radiation, which renders the parasites unable to cause disease, but able to trigger a high, long-lasting degree of protection against malaria in the recipient."

According to Prof. Robert Sauerwein of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre and principal investigator and coordinator of this project, Sanaria's methods for vaccine production are based on exceptional technological advances. The clinical tests will take place in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Sauerwein: "The research being carried out by the groups at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre and Leiden University Medical Center (research led by Dr. Chris Janse) will add a powerful new tool to the approach of rendering the parasite harmless, or attenuated. As opposed to weakening the parasites by radiation we wish to weaken them by genetically modifying them, leading to a similar result: an effective protection against malaria for humans."

Daan Crommelin, scientific director of TI Pharma states that this project will make a difference. "An effective malaria vaccine is important for millions of people in developing countries, especially for infants and children. Therefore this is a very important project based on the WHO Priority Medicines Program, in which malaria is specifically prioritized. With this unique cooperation between a front-running company such as Sanaria Inc. and two excellent Dutch medical centers, both leaders in the field, we expect major steps in the fight against malaria."

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