Antigen Discovery, Inc., receives award to continue malaria vaccine research

Antigen Discovery, Inc., has received a phase II small business innovation and research award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institute of Health for malaria vaccine research.

The award is a continuation of a phase I SBIR grant to scan the Plasmodium falciparum proteome for protective antigens. The funds, which total approximately $2.5 million, support collaborative research between ADi and Sanaria, Inc. Sanaria will use ADi's proteome microarrays to identify biomarkers associated with responses to the administration of Sanaria's malaria products in human trials, Pipeline Review reports.

"By comparing the serum antibody profiles from vaccinees who are protected with those who are not, we aim to identify surrogate antibody biomarkers associated with sporozoite vaccine mediated protection. Such markers are a critically important component of vaccine development," Dr. Philip Felgner, the principal investigator, founder and chairman of ADi, said, Pipeline Review reports.

Sanaria's products include Sanaria PfSPZ Vaccine, Sanaria PfSPZ Challenge, and Sanaria PfSPZ-CVac.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity to exploit ADi's unique technology to advance our understanding of protective immunity against malaria, and thereby accelerate development and licensure of a highly effective malaria vaccine," Dr. Stephen L. Hoffman, Sanaria's founder and chief scientific officer, said, according to Pipeline Review.

The project will also analyze serum samples from clinical studies conducted at Radboud University Nijmengen Medical Center in the Netherlands, where volunteers were completely protected after being immunized by the bite of mosquitoes carrying viable (non-irradiated) PfSPZ while taking chloroquine chemoprophylaxis to prevent blood stage infection. Protection lasted two years.

"This is a very exciting opportunity to gain significant insights into how PfSPZ works to provide robust protection against malaria," Dr. Robert Sauerwein, director of the RUNMC studies, said, Pipeline Review reports.

Malaria is a deadly disease that kills more than 500,000 children under the age of five each year and a vaccine would greatly benefit the billions at risk around the world.