First Whole-Parasite Malaria Vaccine Enters Clinical Trials
Researchers on Thursday announced FDA approval to test a new malaria vaccine that uses a weakened form of the entire malaria parasite to protect people from the disease, the Washington Business Journal reports.
Beginning in May, Sanaria Inc. -the company that developed the vaccine- along with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), will lead the first phase of a clinical trial to test the vaccine's safety and effectiveness. The trials will be at the Naval Medical Research Center clinical trials center in Bethesda, Md., and the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore (Sinha, Washington Business Journal, 4/23).
Though measures exist to help prevent and treat malaria, there is currently no licensed malaria vaccine on the market (Landau, CNN, 4/23). "Initiation of this trial expands the spectrum of malaria vaccines in clinical development today," said Dr. Christian Loucq, Director of MVI in a press release (PATH press release, 4/23).
To create the vaccine, CNN writes: "Bioengineers have been growing millions of mosquitoes in a sterile environment, letting them feed on malaria-infected blood, irradiating the bugs, extracting the disease-causing parasites and storing them for use in vaccines." The approach is similar to vaccines already used to combat measles and polio (CNN, 4/23).
According to Myron Levine, director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Vaccine Development, Sanaria's vaccine builds off decades-old research never brought to fruition because it was considered impossible, United Press International reports (UPI, 4/23). Sanaria has now overcome the manufacturing obstacles with novel technologies, said Dr. Kirsten Lyke, who will lead the clinical trial site at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
If the trials are successful, researchers plan to expand testing to Africa and to children, CNN reports (CNN, 4/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.