Potential new vaccine candidate aims to block transmission of malaria parasites


Vaccine candidate administered for first time in humans in clinical trial led by the Jenner Institute, with Imaxio and GSK

The Jenner Institute at Oxford University in the UK, with partners Imaxio and GSK, has started a Phase I clinical trial of a novel vaccine candidate aimed at blocking the transmission of malaria.

Around half the world’s population is at risk of malaria and the disease led to an estimated 584,000 deaths in 2013.

Mosquirix, a malaria vaccine candidate developed by GSK, has received a positive scientific opinion from the European Medicines Agency for use in young children.

Mosquirix aims to address the objectives set for a first-generation vaccine in the World Health Organisation (WHO) malaria vaccine technology roadmap. The roadmap also outlines ambitious goals for second-generation vaccines including transmission-blocking vaccines that prevent mosquitoes from transmitting malaria to non-infected persons.

The clinical trial is being conducted at Southampton, the lead trial site, and Oxford. It is a dose escalation study to assess the safety of the vaccine candidate in people and its ability to generate immune responses that inhibit the growth of malaria eggs in mosquitoes, thereby preventing transmission of malaria.

The malaria vaccine programme at the Jenner Institute is now unique in having vaccines against all stages of the parasite’s life cycle in clinical development

The vaccine candidate, developed by a team led by Dr Sumi Biswas at the Jenner Institute is composed of a transmission-blocking antigen from Plasmodium falciparum, the more dangerous form of malaria. The antigen is combined with Imaxio’s pro-immunogenic technology IMX313, designed to increase immune responses, and two viral vectors, which are virus carriers modified to be harmless but which can transport the vaccine elements into the body’s cells. One of those is a proprietary viral vector from Okairos (acquired by GSK in 2014). It is being administered through a course of treatment developed by the Jenner Institute.

'Blocking transmission of malaria by mosquitoes from human-to-human is increasingly seen as one of several complementary ways to fight this very important disease,' said Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University.

'The malaria vaccine programme at the Jenner Institute is now unique in having vaccines against all stages of the parasite’s life cycle in clinical development. The combination of technologies from Oxford, Imaxio and GSK is a very promising way to develop a transmission blocking vaccine candidate.'

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The trial is partly financed by the European Commission through MultiMalVax, a Collaborative Project funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7) and coordinated by the Jenner Institute.