Collaboration will advance malaria vaccine development

Burnet Institute

29 July, 2014

Burnet Institute and ARTES Biotechnology have joined forces to develop a new type of malaria vaccine in a project funded by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).

The project will use exciting novel technology developed at Burnet Institute by Deputy Director, Associate Professor David Anderson and colleagues. ARTES holds the international patent rights and adapted the platform to vaccine production (known as the Metavax® platform).

The project will focus on strategies to produce vaccines that can block the transmission of malaria infection from mosquitoes to people.

Purified vaccine antigens (Pfs25 and Pfs230) will be produced as virus-like particles (VLPs, a type of nano-particle) for initial testing in laboratory studies. The VLPs will be taken up by immune cells to prime and prepare the immune system to fight malaria.

Although malaria is one of the world’s leading causes of illness and death there is currently no vaccine approved for use. More than 600,000 people die of malaria each year and it most severely affects young children and pregnant women.

Burnet Institute Co-Head of the Centre for Biomedical Research, Professor James Beeson says the challenges in developing an effective malaria vaccine are substantial.

“One of the challenges for malaria is how to best make vaccines in order to stimulate a strong and effective immune response and boost the immune system to fight malaria infections,” Professor Beeson said.

ARTES Managing Director Dr Michael Piontek said the strong collaboration between Burnet and ARTES is a great opportunity for developing new malaria vaccines.

“In this new project, Burnet and ARTES will combine their expertise to develop and test a novel approach for producing malaria vaccines. We are excited about the recognition and support provided by MVI for this development work,” Dr Piontek said.

Vaccines that interrupt the transmission of malaria aim to protect whole populations, toward the ultimate goal of malaria eradication.

”At MVI, we think that transmission-blocking vaccines could play a significant role in the eventual eradication of malaria,” MVI Director, Ashley J. Birkett said.

“We are therefore very pleased to be involved in this project, which uses an innovative approach to expressing transmission-blocking antigens.”

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Burnet Institute

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