The first vaccine in the world for malaria, based on mRNA technology, is planned to be developed by BioNTech – building on its successful development of Covid-19 vaccine. The company plans to begin clinical trials of the malarial vaccine by the end of next year in its effort to completely eradicate the mosquito borne disease that can sometimes cause serious illness.
BioNTech is also exploring potential for vaccine production in Africa so that it can expand its manufacturing capacity while also enhancing global access to its vaccines, said the Mainz, Germany-based company which jointly prepared the Covid-10 vaccine with Pfizer, said on Monday.
“The response to the pandemic has shown that science and innovation can transform people’s lives when all key stakeholders work together towards a common goal,” said BioNTech Chief Executive and co-founder Ugur Sahin.
Efforts to develop a vaccine that can prevent malaria infections have been ongoing for decades by scientists all across the world. The disease infects millions of people every year and kills more than 400,000 and most of them are babies and young children from the poorest regions of Africa.
Mosquirix, the first and the only licensed vaccine against malaria in the world was developed after many years of clinical trial across several African countries by GlaxoSmithKline. However the efficacy of the vaccine is only at 30 per cent.
A potentially new vaccine for malaria that has shown promise in a year-long trial is being developed by researchers at Oxford’s Jenner Institute led by Adrian Hill, who was one of the lead scientists who developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
The functioning of MRNA based vaccines involves the human body being prompted to make a protein that is part of the virus which helps the body to develop an immune response to a virus that causes a disease.
A number of multiple vaccine candidates that target the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) will be assess by BioNTechm the company said and added that it would also try out new antigens discovered in pre clinical research. It will then select the one with the highest potential for a clinical trial that the company wants to begin by the end of next year.
Among the plans of the company related to the potential vaccine is the setting up of mRNA vaccine production unit in Africa either with one or more partners or by itself. This will help the company to scale up manufacturing capacity in the low- and middle-income countries of the continent.
Nothing about the funding of the project was disclosed by BioNTech. It however said that support for setting up the necessary infrastructure for the project has been offered by the World Health Organisation (WHO), European Commission and other organisations.
Additionally, BioNTech also wants to being a clinical trial phase for a vaccine candidate for tuberculosis in 2022 and said that it is working with partners fro for developing vaccines for preventing nine different infectious diseases as well as for cancer.
(Adapted from GlobeNewsWire.com)