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A Diversity Covering (DiCo) Plasmodium vivax apical membrane antigen-1 vaccine adjuvanted with RFASE/RSL10 yields high levels of growth-inhibitory antibodies.

Faber BW, Yeoh LM, Kurtovic L, Mol WEM, Poelert M, Smits E, Rodriguez Garcia R, Mandalawi-Van der Eijk M, van der Werff N, Voorberg-van der Wel A, Remarque EJ, Beeson JG, Kocken CHM.

  • Published 16 Feb 2024

  • Volume S0264-410X

  • ISSUE 24

  • Pagination S0264-410X

  • DOI 0.1016/j.vaccine.2024.02.029


Plasmodium vivax malaria is increasingly recognized as a major global health problem and the socio-economic impact of P.vivax-induced burden is huge. Vaccine development against P. vivax malaria has been hampered by the lack of an in vitro culture system and poor access to P. vivax sporozoites. The recent generation of Plasmodium falciparum parasites that express a functional P. vivax AMA1 molecule has provided a platform for in vitro evaluation of PvAMA1 as a potential blood stage vaccine. Three so-called PvAMA1 Diversity Covering (DiCo) proteins were designed to assess their potential to induce a functional and broad humoral immune response to the polymorphic PvAMA1 molecule. Rabbits were immunized with the mixture of three, Pichia-produced, PvAMA1 DiCo proteins, as well as with 2 naturally occurring PvAMA1 alleles. For these three groups, the experimental adjuvant raffinose fatty acid sulfate ester (RFASE) was used, while in a fourth group the purified main mono-esterified constituent (RSL10) of this adjuvant was used. Animals immunized with the mixture of the three PvAMA1 DiCo proteins in RFASE showed high anti-PvAMA1 antibody titers against three naturally occurring PvAMA1variants while also high growth-inhibitory capacity was observed against P. falciparum parasites expressing PvAMA1. This supports further clinical development of the PvAMA1 DiCo mixture as a potential malaria vaccine. However, as the single allele PvAMA1 SalI-group showed similar characteristics in antibody titer and inhibition levels as the PvAMA1 DiCo mixture-group, this raises the question whether a mixture is really necessary to overcome the polymorphism in the vaccine candidate. RFASE induced strong humoral responses, as did the animals immunized with the purified component, RSL10. This suggests that RSL10 is the active ingredient. However, one of the RSL10-immunized animal showed a delayed response, necessitating further research into the clinical development of RSL10.