PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to develop standardized measures for malaria vaccination development

The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative will be working with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Imperial College London to measure the capacity of different vaccine candidates in human clinical testing to elicit an immune response aimed at protecting against deadly malaria parasites.

"Until now, malaria vaccine scientists have struggled to directly compare the cellular immune response elicited in humans by one vaccine to that of another, and this has hampered the ability to prioritize a portfolio of vaccine candidates," David C. Kaslow, the director of MVI, said, redOrbit reports. "We are fortunate to have in IAVI and Imperial College London partners with a track record of developing validated human immunological assays. Through this new collaboration, we look forward to being able to make better informed decisions about if and how various malaria vaccines elicit immune responses at the cellular level in humans."

MVI and its collaborators have seen difficulty in finding uniform validated techniques and processes among its laboratories, specifically in its evaluation of T-cell immunity. AIDS vaccine researched had faced similar challenges in the past. IAVI and its Good Clinical Laboratory Practices accredited Human Immunology Laboratory at Imperial College London have refined and validated specific tests that measure vaccine-induced, cell-mediated immunity in an effort to identify a more consistent understanding of how multiple vaccine candidates were performing at a cellular level, according to redOrbit.

The wider scientific community cited the development of a standard set of assays with standardized procedures to enable comparisons of the immune responses of vaccines in 2006 in the Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap. This helped accelerate malaria vaccine development. The new collaboration will help address the concerns outlined in the report.

"We are pleased that IAVI can contribute to informed, data-driven decisions on vaccine approaches," Margaret McGlynn, the president and CEO of IAVI, said, redOrbit reports. "Many of the methods and strategies employed in AIDS vaccine development could be of use in efforts to develop a malaria vaccine. Our collaboration will allow investments in AIDS vaccine R&D to benefit efforts to prevent another disease of great relevance to global health."

IAVI and its partner at Imperial College London will develop two types of assays for MVI and its collaborators as they begin clinical trials for vaccine candidates. They will provide the Interferon-gamma ELISpot assay and a multi-color flow cytometry assay. The tests will detect T-cells that may be present in the blood of volunteers who have received the vaccination.

"These tests can provide quantitative information, such as how many cells responded to the vaccine, along with qualitative information, such as the different cell types that were stimulated," Professor Gavin Screaton, the head of the department of medicine at Imperial College London, said, redOrbit reports. "Both types of information can be important in determining the power of the overall vaccine-induced immune response.

"We're delighted to be hosting this work at Imperial, which builds on our longstanding fruitful association with IAVI. We're also looking forward to working more closely with MVI as part of our commitment to vaccine research and international health."

Kaslow said that the tests will allow researchers to discover which vaccine strategies are eliciting a superior cell-mediated immune response. The results from the assays are just one piece of evidence in finding a malaria vaccine, Kaslow stressed.

"At MVI, we need standardization of these assays because when we analyze the results from various trials and look at the data on cell-mediated immunity, we need to be sure that any differences are not caused by variations in how the tests were done," Kaslow said, redOrbit reports.