Antigen Discovery won a $2.5 million three-year Phase II Small Business Innovation and Research Grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to continue a program focused on identifying Plasmodium falciparum antigens associated with protection against malaria. The funds will support a collaboration between the firm and Sanaria, which is using Antigen Discovery’s proteome microarrays to identify biomarkers associated with response to the administration of Sanaria's malaria products in human trials, including Sanaria PfSPZ Vaccine (radiation attenuated sporozoites), Sanaria PfSPZ Challenge (fully infectious sporozoites), and Sanaria PfSPZ-CVac (PfSPZ Challenge administered with malaria chemoprophylaxis).
The collaborators will also analyze serum samples from volunteers in studies conducted at the Radboud University Nijmengen Medical Center in the Netherlands, who were completely protected after being immunized by the bite of mosquitoes carrying viable PfSPZ while taking chloroquine chemoprophylaxis to prevent blood stage infection.
Antigen Discovery maintains the project could not only lead to the development of a diagnostic test that can predict vaccine-mediated protection, but also potentially identify antigens that may be used to produce an effective subunit vaccine. “By comparing the serum antibody profiles from vaccinees who are protected with those who are not, we aim to identify surrogate antibody biomarkers associated with sporozoite vaccine mediated protection,” comments Philip Felgner, Ph.D., principal investigator on the project and founder and chairman of Antigen Discovery. “Such markers are a critically important component of vaccine development."