Molecular biologist discusses new malaria vaccine with Tennessee students

A vaccine stabilization and logistics scientist with a Maryland-based biotechnology company hosted a seminar on Friday at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to discuss a new malaria vaccine candidate.

Adam Ruben, a molecular biologist at Sanaria, Inc., gave the seminar, titled "Whole Sporozoite Vaccines for Eradication of Malaria." The seminar was hosted by the university's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Tennessee Journalist reports.

Ruben said that Sanaria is progressing toward a more effective malaria vaccine made of extracts from the salivary glands of infected mosquitoes. Sanaria scientists make the parasites harmless through gamma radiation and then hand-dissect the mosquitoes to extract the salivary glands.

"We have conducted two Phase I clinical trials which have demonstrated that this vaccine is safe and well tolerated," Ruben said, according to the Tennessee Journalist.

Ruben said that the results of a new clinical trial on the vaccine will appear in four to six weeks in the New England Journal of Medicine. He said that the results of the trial are exciting.

In discussing the next steps for the vaccine, Ruben said that Sanaria will need to improve administration, including route and dosage. Ninety-three percent of volunteers exposed to mosquitoes treated with gamma radiation were protected from malaria for 10 months. Intravenous and intradermal administration techniques were less effective.

Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum result in more than 300 million reported cases and one million deaths annually, the Tennessee Journalist reports.