Collaboration hinges on Insect Transformation Facility’s expertise in producing parasites in engineered mosquitoes.

Sanaria and the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) at the University of Maryland College Park won a $3 million, three-year phase 2 SBIR grant from NIAID to fund development of genetically engineered mosquitoes that produce parasites for Sanaria’s malaria vaccine manufacturing process. The new funds will enable continuation of the phase 1 SBIR grant-supported partnership between the organizations, which is leveraging the expertise of IBBR’s Insect Transformation Facility.

“The SBIR grants are critical to the success of our malaria vaccine development efforts, which are aimed at producing a vaccine that can be used to eliminate malaria from defined geographical areas,” comments Sanaria CEO Stephen L. Hoffman,M.D. “This ongoing collaboration with IBBR provides an excellent opportunity to exploit state-of-the-art mosquito transformation methodologies to further our goal of generating extraordinarily high numbers of malaria parasites in mosquitoes to facilitate lower cost vaccine production.

Sanaria is dedicated to the development of nonreplicating sporozoite-based malaria vaccines that provide long-lasting protection against malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum and P. viva. The firm claims it has solved the technical and practical issues associated with generating a cost-effective sporozoite-based vaccine. It now intends to demonstrate that a vaccine meeting regulatory requirements can be produced economically and reproducibly at a commercial scale and protects against 90% of immunized adults and infants against challenge with P. falciparum sporozoites.

In January Sanaria announced the start of a Phase I trial at NIH to evaluate its attenuated sporozoite P. falciparum vaccine candidiate PfSPZ in 51 healthy volunteers. Sponsored by NIAID in collaboration with Sanaria and the U.S. Military Malaria Vaccine Program, the dose-ranging trial, designated VRC 312, will evaluate the efficacy of a course of intravenously administered vaccine against subsequent challenge with a drug-sensitive P. falciparum strain.

Sanaria’s vaccine program has led to the development of expertise in the manufacture and assay of malaria parasites and mosquitoes in a cGMP compliant, industrial setting. The firm is making its parasites, mosquitoes, and assay services available to the research community through a suite of products and services.

The IBBR was established by the Unvierstiy of Maryland College Park, the University of Maryland Baltimore, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Insect Transformation Facility is dedicated to advancing insect molecular science and its clinical application. It acts as a resource for generating modified insects for academic and industrial clients and developing new transgenic insect technologies. 

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