New malaria vaccine takes centre stage

A malaria vaccine to protect against all known strains of the deadly disease is being launched by Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics.

To be officially launched at this Friday’s opening of the Institute’s new Laboratory of Vaccines for the Developing World, PlasProtecTâ„¢ uses a scientific method whereby ultra-low doses of whole malaria parasites are ‘put to sleep’ using a unique chemical treatment.

The sleeping parasite will be administered to volunteers as part of Phase 1 human vaccine trials within the next 12 months with the treatment expected to produce an immune response that will protect against all known strains of malaria.

Lead researcher Professor Michael Good said previous attempts to find the ‘silver bullet’ solution to attack the malaria parasite have proved elusive.

“Our approach has entailed putting the parasite to sleep by using a new class of chemical compounds that target certain DNA sequences in the parasite.

“The sleeping parasite is then injected in very small doses and we have observed very strong immune responses that can protect from multiple strains and species of the parasite, thus potentially overcoming the major hurdle to developing a vaccine.”

Scientific development of the new patented and trademarked technology PlasProtecTâ„¢ will be undertaken at the Laboratory of Vaccines for the Developing World, with clinical translation into Phase 1 human vaccine trials to be carried out at Queensland Health facilities.

Led by Professor Good, the new Gold Coast laboratory will host a dedicated team of 13 post-doctoral researchers, assistants and students working in collaboration with an impressive team of Australian and international researchers.

Institute director Professor Mark von Itzstein said: “The launch of Professor Good’s laboratory also provides significant opportunities for the discovery of new medicines against malaria and other diseases.

“From the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside, translational outcomes are the ultimate goal of Institute for Glycomics research.”

“Malaria kills one million children per year, most of whom are in the developing world,” Professor Good added.

“Our approach to vaccine development could lead to a significant reduction in the global burden of malaria.