The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) today announced a new Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), focused on support of a collaboration with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) for the development of a new vaccine against malaria. The collaboration is for the development of a novel malaria vaccine, which combines WRAIR’s malaria antigen CelTOS with IDRI’s potent GLA-SE adjuvant.
Preclinical studies to date have shown that the combination of CelTOS and GLA-SE in a vaccine candidate produces potent immune responses in small animals, resulting in a protective immune response during the infectious mosquito-stage of malaria parasites.
Because of the conserved nature of the CelTOS antigen, immunized mice are protected against other distantly related malaria strains as well. USAID provided funds for WRAIR’s preclinical studies of this antigen, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded IDRI’s CelTOS-specific adjuvant development activities. A phase I clinical trial with human malaria challenge is being funded by USAID, the WRAIR, and the Gates Foundation grant awarded to IDRI.
Malaria is a devastating parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. The WHO estimates that more than two billion people live in malarious areas of the world in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America. The emergence and spread of drug resistance, production and availability of counterfeit medications, and mosquito resistance to insecticides make the development of a safe, effective, and affordable malaria vaccine critical as an adjunct to other preventive measures. Because CelTOS is essential for establishing parasite infections in both the human and mosquito hosts, IDRI, USAID, and WRAIR are hopeful that the development of the CelTOS – GLA-SE malaria vaccine will provide a significant new approach to a human malaria vaccine, targeting prevention of both human disease and transmission of the parasite back to the mosquito.
“The collaboration with WRAIR illustrates again the broad utility of GLA-SE as a vaccine adjuvant,” Dr. Steven G. Reed, IDRI’s Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer, stated. “We are very excited to be moving this important project ahead and particularly pleased with the validating interest from USAID.”
“The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is pleased that both IDRI and USAID have partnered with us in helping support the development of malaria vaccines to prevent infection in children worldwide and to protect our men and women serving in uniform in areas of the world where malaria is still a major infectious disease,” said COL Christian Ockenhouse, Director of WRAIRs’ Malaria Vaccine Development Program.
Dr. Carter Diggs, Senior Technical Advisor for the USAID Malaria Vaccine Development Program added that, “In spite of dramatic progress in malaria control, the disease is still a major killer of children in the developing world. USAID is very pleased with this collaboration, which combines exploration of the vaccine potential of an untested, but promising malaria antigen with this leading edge adjuvant system.”