The National Institutes of Health (NIH) last month awarded three Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants to Protein Potential, LLC for development of a malaria vaccine that protects against Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite responsible for more than 95% of malaria associated deaths worldwide.
The vaccine will target three different stages of the parasite life cycle, thereby preventing infection, disease, and transmission. In the first project, Protein Potential will collaborate with Aduro Inc. of Berkeley, California to engineer a dual component vaccine that disrupts the parasite’s asymptomatic liver stage by inducing antibodies and protective T cell responses and prevents infection.
The second project involves collaboration with the NIH Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research on a vaccine that elicits antibodies that block parasite invasion of red blood cells. Protein Potential’s strategy is to attack multiple molecules that are used by the parasite when it invades red blood cells, a single critical step necessary for the parasite’s survival.
In the third project, Protein Potential will produce recombinant protein-based vaccines against three different stages of the parasite to prevent both infection of liver cells and transmission from person to person by mosquitoes.
“This triple punch at the parasite has not been explored before. We are now positioned to use powerful approaches that combine Protein Potential’s core capabilities in recombinant protein production and malariology with our collaborators’ novel discoveries,” says the Founder and President of Protein Potential, B. Kim Lee Sim , Ph.D. “Our goal is to come up with a vaccine cocktail that the elusive malaria parasite will be unable to outsmart.”