According to the WHO, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria in 2019 and an estimated 409 000 deaths of which 274 000 children under five years of age. 94% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. That is 1300 children every day, or one child almost every two minutes.
If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria drugs. Malaria being an extremely climate-sensitive disease, a potential risk exists that Global Warming leads Malaria towards areas in higher latitudes.1
Mymetics' malaria Vaccine Approach
The parasite has two main stages of development, implying that the surface of the parasite (sporozoites or merozoites) are constantly changing. Accordingly, the ideal vaccine should target different proteins from the various stages to improve the chance of obtaining protection or reducing the symptoms related mostly to the red blood cell infection.
Mymetics’ first malaria vaccine candidate is using the influenza virosome as the carrier and adjuvant with the incorporation of at least three antigens that target the two forms of the parasite and is thereby one of the few vaccine developed with this approach
The second malaria vaccine candidate is a transmission blocking vaccine which also uses the Mymetics virosome technology by incorporating a transmission blocking antigen from the Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology (LMIV) of the NIAID.
The transmission-blocking vaccine candidate seek to interrupt the life cycle of the parasite by inducing antibodies that prevent the parasite from maturing in the mosquito after it takes a blood meal from a vaccinated person. A successful transmission-blocking vaccine would be expected to reduce deaths and illness related to malaria in at-risk communities.
Target population and market size
Both these vaccine candidates are primarily targeted to the overall population in sub-Saharan Africa and as a traveller vaccine. The market size for a malaria vaccine is estimated at USD 400 to USD 600 million.
A vaccine reducing malaria episodes
The first vaccine candidate with two malaria antigens completed a Phase 1b clinical trial in Tanzania in close collaboration with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. The clinical trial study confirmed that the company's virosome-based vaccine was well tolerated and safe for adults and children as young as 5 years of age. The vaccine induced specific antibodies against the key AMA-1 and CSP-1 Malaria antigens in semi-immune subjects, lasting up to 12 months for the CSP-1. Overall the vaccine reduced the malaria episodes by 50%. See more
Since 2017 Mymetics is developing an improved second malaria vaccine candidate, which includes besides the existing antigens, two other possible antigens which will cover the complete life cycle of the parasite in humans. This vaccine candidate is being developed with funds from the EU and collaborations with the NIH, MVI, the University of Oxford and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health institute. The latest publication is found here.
Due to the Covid pandemic this development has been set on hold.
Pending the pre-clinical results, Mymetics will evaluate funding opportunities for further development of these two vaccine candidates, which are based on the virosome platform.
1 Reiter P. Global warming and malaria: knowing the horse before hitching the cart; Malaria Journal ( December 11, 2008).