A vaccine developed in collaboration between GlaxoSmithKline and the U.S. Army failed to protect subjects in an early trial against the world's most prevalent malaria parasite. Researchers will press forward, however, saying the knowledge gained may assist future development.
Scientists have created the first 3-D "map" of a protein used by malaria parasites to invade human blood cells. This could lead to the development of a vaccine that could attack the most widespread species of the parasite.
While the European Medicines Agency gave the world's first malaria vaccine a regulatory nod last July, the vaccine isn't perfect, conferring only partial immunity that wanes over time. On Monday, Bill Gates and Chancellor George Osborne, the British finance minister, announced a £3 billion fund ($4.28 billion) to support research and efforts to eradicate malaria.
The new gene editing tech CRISPR/Cas9 has given a team of researchers in the U.K. the tools it needs to genetically alter a mosquito and pass along an infertility trait that could largely wipe out pests that are known to spread malaria.
Louis Schofield, director of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation worth AU$2.8 million to pursue preclinical development of a malaria vaccine.
The World Health Organization is throwing a roadblock in GlaxoSmithKline's plans to roll out its malaria vaccine, dubbed RTS,S or Mosquirix, by calling for the vaccine to be used in pilot projects before a widespread campaign. Such pilot projects can take up to 5 years to complete.
GlaxoSmithKline's malaria vaccine, Mosquirix, got an EMA green light just last month, but it doesn't mean efforts to develop additional vaccines have halted. PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) is teaming up with protein manufacturer CMC Biologics to develop monoclonal antibodies that could inform future development of MVI's malaria candidates.
GlaxoSmithKline's malaria jab got the green light from the EMA on Friday and the British pharma is making plans for a gradual rollout of the vaccine.
GlaxoSmithKline's malaria vaccine, RTS,S or Mosquirix, has won a positive opinion from the EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use for use in children aged 6 weeks to 17 months outside the European Union, the agency said in a statement.
Final trial results reported in April showed that the efficacy of GlaxoSmithKline's investigational malaria vaccine wanes over time. But the candidate, dubbed RTS,S or Mosquirix, is the furthest along in the quest for a vaccine and so, may win WHO and EMA approval as the first vaccine against malaria.