ARTES and Burnet join forces to develop anti-malaria vaccine

Transmission-blocking vaccines could play a significant role in the eventual eradication of malaria

German biotechnology company ARTES Biotechnology has linked up with the Burnet Institute, Australia's largest virology and communicable disease research institute, to develop a new type of malaria vaccine in a project funded by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).

The project will use technology developed at the Burnet Institute by Deputy Director, Associate Professor David Anderson and colleagues. ARTES holds the international patent rights and has adapted this Metavax technology to vaccine production.

Purified vaccine antigens (Pfs25 and Pfs230) will be produced as virus-like particles (VLPs, a type of nano-particle) for testing in laboratory studies. The VLPs will be taken up by immune cells to prime and prepare the immune system to fight malaria.

Although malaria is one of the world’s leading causes of illness and death there is currently no vaccine approved for use. More than 600,000 people die of malaria each year and it most severely affects young children and pregnant women.

Burnet Institute’s Co-Head of the Centre for Biomedical Research, Professor James Beeson, says one of the challenges in developing an effective malaria vaccine is how best to make vaccines that will stimulate a strong and effective immune response and boost the immune system to fight the infection.

ARTES’ Managing Director Michael Piontek says the strong collaboration between Burnet and ARTES is a great opportunity for developing new malaria vaccines.

‘In this new project, Burnet and ARTES will combine their expertise to develop and test a novel approach for producing malaria vaccines. We are excited about the recognition and support provided by MVI for this development work.’

The project will focus on strategies to produce vaccines that can block the transmission of malaria infection from mosquitoes to people, as part of a programme funded by MVI.

‘At MVI, we think that transmission-blocking vaccines could play a significant role in the eventual eradication of malaria,’ said Ashley Birkett, MVI Director.