An effective vaccine for the deadliest malaria

EU-funded researchers are using the latest vaccine technologies and antigen discovery tools to develop a multi-stage, multi-antigen vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for the deadliest form of malaria.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Gambia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 25 April 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesCommunicable diseases  |  Drugs & drug processes  |  Major diseases  |  Medical research  |  Public health
International cooperation
Research policyHorizon 2020
Special CollectionsMalaria
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Australia  |  Denmark  |  France  |  Netherlands  |  Sweden  |  Switzerland  |  United Kingdom  |  United States
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An effective vaccine for the deadliest malaria

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A highly effective and widely deployed vaccine for Plasmodium falciparum would prevent up to half a million deaths worldwide each year – a goal that has remained elusive until now despite diverse efforts to tackle the mosquito-borne disease.

To address the challenge, the EU-funded OPTIMALVAX project is implementing cutting-edge approaches to discover multiple antigens – molecules capable of inducing an immune response in humans – that can stimulate the production of antibodies and T lymphocyte cells against Plasmodium falciparum. T lymphocyte cells are a type of white blood cells important in cell-mediated immunity.

The researchers are focusing specifically on a technology based on identifying virus-like particles – non-infectious antigens that do not contain any viral genetic material – which could be promising in developing malaria vaccine candidates with multiple antigens, and could be applied to different stages of the malaria parasite’s development cycle.

This includes identifying antigens that are effective against the sporozoite stage, when Plasmodium falciparum enters the body with the bite of an infected mosquito, through its development in the liver and subsequent distribution throughout the body in the blood. At this stage the symptoms commonly associated with the disease such as high fever and organ dysfunction usually appear.

The team will also explore particles capable of impeding sexual-stage parasites and Plasmodium falciparum’s transmission from mosquitoes.

Candidate vaccines, containing effective multiple antigens (with several malaria stages proteins), will be developed and tested in clinical trials as part of the OPTIMALVAX project, in collaboration with partner pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership programme (EDCTP), funded by the EU’s H2020 programme, also contributes to tackling global health crises. The work of OPTIMALVAX should lead to candidates that could progress rapidly to clinical development and could be supported by the EDCTP. This would give a high chance of success in tackling the major global health problem posed by the deadliest form of malaria.

Project details

  • Project acronym: OPTIMALVAX
  • Participants: UK (Coordinator), Netherlands, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, United States
  • Project N°: 733273
  • Total costs: € 23 701 228
  • EU contribution: € 20 050 441
  • Duration: January 2017 to December 2021

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