In October 2023 the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) announced that it will be coordinating a new partnership to explore how new technologies can offer greater immune insights and develop a next-generation malaria vaccine. The project is called correlates of protective immunity-driven investigation of malaria vaccine combination strategies (CAPTIVATE) and begins in November 2023. Funded by the European Commission, CAPTIVATE comprises partners from four EU countries and Australia.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease with an estimated 619,000 deaths in 2021. WHO suggests that in that year there were roughly 247 million cases worldwide, with almost half of the global population at risk. The WHO African Region “carries a disproportionately high share” of the global malaria burden, comprising 95% of cases and 96% of deaths in 2021.
Despite the continued burden, progress is being made in the fight against the disease, and WHO has recommended the use of RTS,S/AS01 and R21/Matrix-MTM. These vaccines are expected to “significantly contribute to malaria control”, suggests EVI. However, there is more to be done.
EVI reports that CAPTIVATE will “complement” global malaria efforts by using “new technologies” to gain a better understanding of immune reactions to malaria and develop the “next-generation malaria vaccine”.
“CAPTIVATE will develop a new and improved vaccine targeting multiple developmental stages of P. falciparum, the most dangerous form of the malaria parasite.”
The consortium, which “assembles a unique combination” of experts in various fields relating to malaria and vaccine development, will “optimise the efficacy of current pre-erythrocytic vaccines” while “evaluating the safety and immunogenicity of new blood-stage mRNA vaccine candidates”. Alongside this, the work will involve the development of a next generation of “highly efficacious malaria vaccine candidates” using an advanced in-silico platform to “analyse TCR- and single cell sequencing data” with AI predictions of vaccine antigens.
The consortium will also establish a European facility to produce malaria sporozoites for “research and clinical use”.
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