NIH gives $3M grant for malaria vaccine

Support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of the NIH has given Protein Potential, LLC support in its research for a vaccine to prevent malaria caused by the Plasmodium vivax parasite.


The Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Grant, a three-year award totaling approximately $3 million, will support Protein Potential's translational research in the vaccine development.


"This Phase II SBIR funding will be used to develop vaccine lots that satisfy manufacturing and quality assurance criteria necessary to proceed to clinical testing in human subjects," Dr. Kim Lee Sim, Protein Potential founder and president, said.


Plasmodium vivax is the second most serious cause of malaria, with most of the 80 million annual cases in Asia, Oceania and Latin America.


"The need for effective tools to combat P. vivax malaria cannot be emphasized enough," Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of the Barcelona Centre for International Health Research and the head of the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda's steering committee, said. "The prospects for realizing the goal of malaria eradication will be substantially improved by a vaccine that prevents P. vivax infections. Protein Potential's efforts to develop such a vaccine are an important step in this direction."


Protein Potential's vaccine utilizes part of Plasmodium vivax's circumsporozoite protein, which is the parasite's surface covering during the initial stages of infection. Antibodies against the protein can block critical parts of the early infection process.


"The malaria research community has fallen behind in testing the potential of recombinant protein vaccines to protect against P. vivax infection," Dr. Stephen Hoffman, CEO of Sanaria Inc., and a prominent malaria immunologist who serves as Protein Potential's chairman, said. "Protein Potential's efforts to develop such a vaccine begin to address this important issue."