Sanaria, Inc., announces $3M NIAID SBIR grant for malaria vaccine studies

Sanaria, Inc., and the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research announced on Thursday that it has received a multi-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for malaria vaccine studies.

The Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Grant is worth close to $3 million over a three year period and will fund development and research for the genetic engineering of mosquitoes. The mosquitoes will be engineered to have large numbers of parasites for the manufacturing process of Sanaria's malaria vaccine.

"Sanaria and IBBR have established a powerful system with which to exploit new techniques in mosquito genetics and efficiently test the ability of modified mosquito strains to sustain high level P. falciparum infections," Peter F. Billingsley, the senior scientist and principal investigator on grant states with Sanaria, said.

The Phase II SBIR award will give Sanaria and IBBR the opportunity to continue and expand a successful partnership that was forged by a Phase I SBIR.

"The partnership between Sanaria and IBBR supported by this grant is an extraordinary opportunity to continue to exploit the unique capabilities of our Insect Transformation Facility in pursuit of a goal of tremendous importance," David O'Brochta, a principal investigator on the grant, said.

Over 200 million clinical cases of malaria occur each year with between 650,000 and 1.2 million deaths annually.

"The SBIR grants are critical to the success of our malaria vaccine development efforts, which are aimed at producing a vaccine that can be used to eliminate malaria from defined geographic areas," Stephen L. Hoffman, the CEO of Sanaria, said. "This ongoing collaboration with IBBR provides an excellent opportunity to exploit state-of-the-art mosquito transformation methodologies to further our goal of generating extraordinarily high numbers of malaria parasites in mosquitoes to facilitate lower cost vaccine production."

Sanaria, Inc., is a privately held company based in Rockville, Md. The company's mission is to develop and commercialize malaria vaccines. The IBBR is a joint research enterprise of the University of Maryland College Park.