Malaria remains a fatal infectious disease that substantially impacts on the life and prosperity of about one third of the world population. Each day thousands of pregnant women and 0-5 year old children die (mostly in Africa) from this parasitic infection, despite the fact that the WHO declared this diseases preventable and treatable decades ago. In fact therapeutic options for treatment of human malaria are available, as well as containment measures (i.e. insecticide treated bed-nets) that control the vector of this disease in mosquitoes. However, despite great global efforts to end this plague by exploiting currently available tools, both drug resistance and vector-resistance to containment is impeding the efficacy of any elimination effort. What is urgently needed for this disease is a truly protective vaccine with costs and feasibility that are accessible to the whole population at risk . In response to this urgent global need, AchilleS Vaccines proposes placing their expertise and innovative capacity at the disposal of the malaria field, by providing a novel top-to-bottom vaccination strategy for malaria, termed “malOMVax”
Combining high-tech and novel approaches in bioinformatics, parasitology, and vaccinology, AchilleS Vaccines is uniquely implementing a technology that pools multiple malaria antigens with the current state of the art vaccine carrier, bacterial outer-membrane vesicles based upon modified bacteria (mOMV). The modifications introduced guarantee the safety and the immunogenicity of these vesicles. The mOMV’s have been successfully used in other vaccines (i.e. for Shigella). AchilleS Vaccines has further enhanced mOMV design and production (under company know-how), significantly reducing the cost of manufacture. AchilleS Vaccines is ideally placed to win the malaria vaccine challenge through exploitation of this validated strategy, by loading onto the mOMV multiple and novel antigens, which have been proven to be efficacious in initiating protective immunity. The aim is to achieve universal disease coverage despite the variability of the clinical strains, virulence, and the short-lived nature of the critical stages which are the only ones where antigens are actually exposed to the immune system, (i.e. merozoites, sporozoites).
The selection of the antigens pool will be the result of an unprecedented coordinated effort of first-class malariologists, who will contribute to the project with their expertise and breakthrough applicative biotechnologies. These include concepts such as native antigen production and antimalarial antibody characterization. Combined with a top-class bioinformatics platform (Lab 4.0), AchilleS Vaccines will bring fresh perspective and innovation in the field of malaria vaccinology. It will apply an unbiased all-encompassing genomic approach which aims to explore novel and poorly-explored antigens. The best malaria specific antigens will be selected out of a panel of immunological, microbiological, antimalarial, and safety profiles. The malaria antigens deemed to have the most potential will ultimately be combined together into the vaccine malOMVax, exploiting the surprisingly high flexibility of the AchilleS Vaccines mOMVs as antigen-carriers. Combination of antigens has already been proven in various malaria laboratories as the preeminent winning strategy for producing a truly protective vaccine against malaria. AchilleS Vaccines now wants to translate into reality what has so far remained in the proof-of-concept stage, by exploiting an unprecedented combination of expert resources and innovative technologies that AchilleS Vaccines has at hand.