The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and Inovio Pharmaceuticals have announced a follow-on collaboration to advance the development of malaria vaccines and new vaccine delivery technologies.
The companies will test whether combining genetically engineered DNA with electroporation, a new vaccine delivery technology, can induce a suitable immune response in humans to protect against malaria parasite infection.
Using controlled electrical impulses, electroporation creates temporary pores in a cell membrane that will allow for uptake of the synthetic DNA. The DNA instructions can then be used by the cell to produce proteins that mimic the presence of the malaria pathogen. Researchers hope the technology will induce an immune response that provides protection against malaria.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, President and CEO of Inovio, said, in a statement, “Our synthetic vaccine platform has produced vaccine candidates against HPV, HIV, and influenza targets that have generated potent T cell immune responses observed in human clinical studies. Using the same platform technology, we have now generated encouraging data with preclinical testing of our malaria antigen plasmids.” Human clinical trials will begin in early 2014, where the vaccine technology will be tested in approximately 30 individuals. Volunteers will receive the vaccine and then be exposed to the malaria parasite to see whether infection is prevented.