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Framework programme: 5
Project number:
EC contribution: € 1 503 210
Duration: 36 months
Type: RS
Starting date: 1 September 2001
Graphic element The Development of Vaccine Against Pregnancy-Associated Malaria - PAMVAC (Pregnancy-Associated Malaria Vaccine)
Keywords: Malaria; vaccine; pregnancy


Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) can cause infant mortality, premature delivery, low birth weight and anaemia, and death in the mother. It is a major global public health problem. This RTD project focuses on the antigen validation and development phase of designing a vaccine against the severe mother and infant pathology associated with Plasmodiumfalciparum malaria infection in pregnancy and emphasises the development of a vaccine to protect pregnant women and their newborns from the adverse effects of malarial infections.


Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains a leading health problem in the world. In malaria-endemic areas, substantial clinical protection is acquired during the first decade of life and the majority of malaria-related morbidity and mortality is concentrated in young children. In contrast to the general absence of malaria in adults, pregnant women in endemic areas are highly susceptible to malaria. There is an apparent loss of immunity during pregnancy, since pregnant women are more likely to suffer the deleterious effects of malaria than non-pregnant women are. Increased frequency of infection and density of parasitaemia are observed, the placenta is often heavily infected and the disease has a higher severity in first pregnancies than in subsequent pregnancies, making younger mothers a particularly vulnerable group. PAM is widely acknowledged to be a major and neglected health problem for women, particularly in Africa and South-East Asia.


The longer-term, central aim of these malaria-control efforts is to have safer pregnancies and significant reductions in neonatal mortality. An extensive characterisation of the complex phenomenon of parasite adhesion and sequestration in the placenta will be carried out, through which it is hoped to identify parasite protein antigen domains responsible for the binding of infected erythrocytes. The functional relevance of receptor-ligand interactions will be determined and will generate structural information to facilitate the development of anti-adhesion vaccines. The project will also focus on elucidating the immune mechanisms involved in protection, identifying anti-parasite antibodies in the placenta in response to malarial infections.

Expected results:

  • Knowledge of Plasmodium falciparum parasites from the placentas of pregnant women.
  • An insight into the molecular events of parasite adhesion and pathogenesis in PAM.
  • An insight into anti-placental malaria protection.

Potential applications:

A validated and safe immunogen identified in this RTD project can serve as a basis of a candidate PAM vaccine.


Mo Klinkert
Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine
Bernhard-Nocht-Strasse 74
20359 Hamburg
Tel: +49 40 4281 8301
Fax: +49 40 4281 8400


Official Address Other Information
2David ArnotInstitute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology
University of Edinburgh
Kings Building
West Mains Road
UK-EH9 3JT Edinburgh
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 131 650 8655
Fax: +44 131 650 5450
3Mats WahlgrenMicrobiology and Tumour Biology Centre
Karolinska Institute
PO Box 280
Nobels väg 16
SE-171 77 Stockholm
Tel: +46 8 728 7277
Fax: +46 8 310 525
4Graham A. BentleyUnité d'Immunologie Structurale
Institut Pasteur
25 Rue du Roux
FR-75724 Paris Cedex 15
Tel: +33 1 45 68 86 10
Fax: +33 1 45 68 86 39
5Philippe DeloronMother and Health Research Unit
Research Institute for Development
Laboratoire de Parasitologie
Faculté des Sciences Pharmaceutiques
4 Avenue de l’Observatoire
FR-75270 Paris Cedex 06
Tel: +33 1 53 73 96 21
Fax: +33 1 42 16 26 54
6Lars HviidCentre for Medical Parasitology
Department of Infectious Diseases M7641
Tagensvej 20
DK-2200 Copenhagen N
Tel: +45 35 457 957
Fax: +45 35 457 644

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