Gates Foundation donates $156 million for research into malaria prevention, eradication

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $156 million to PATH to create and manufacture a malaria vaccine.

The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative is aimed at creating new vaccines that will break up the cycle of malaria parasite transmission into the body and could potentially ensure that parasite reintroduction is prevented altogether. Malaria reportedly kills 600,000 people worldwide annually.

"This new grant for the MVI program will help ensure that PATH can continue its effort to implement an organization-wide strategy aimed at supporting control, then elimination, and ultimately eradication of malaria," Steve Davis, PATH's president and CEO, said. "We think that malaria vaccines are key to success against malaria, and I am deeply appreciative of the Gates Foundation's confidence in our ability to make a contribution in this area."

The announcement of the award was made by Bill Gates this week in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's annual meeting.

"At MVI, we think it's time to turn the tables on this disease and to rid the world of it entirely," Ashley Birkett, director of MVI, said. "To do this, however, will require new and improved tools. Vaccines are likely to provide the best opportunity to complement drugs and vector-control measures in reducing transmission to zero, and they are the single most important intervention for preventing reintroduction. We know from history that vaccine-induced community immunity can eliminate or significantly reduce the threat of infectious diseases — just look at smallpox, polio, measles, mumps and more recently, meningitis A."

Nearly seven years ago, MVI began focusing its attention on developing vaccines that interrupt transmission of the malaria parasite.