Frankfurt: German company BioNTech, which has partnered with US giant Pfizer to develop a coronavirus vaccine in record time, said Monday it intends to begin trials of a malaria vaccine next year using the same revolutionary mRNA technology…
If successful, the vaccine could be a critical step in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases that kill more than 400,000 people every year, mostly young children in Africa.
“We will do our best to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based malaria vaccine that will prevent disease, reduce mortality and provide a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by the disease,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech. statement.
The company said it will evaluate several candidate vaccines and begin clinical trials by the end of 2022.
The project is supported by the World Health Organization, the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Union.
BioNTech said it is also considering setting up an mRNA center in Africa so that future vaccines can be produced and distributed across the continent.
The planned malaria vaccine will use the same RNA messenger method that debuted with the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which was the first Covid injection approved in the West at the end of 2020.
The coronavirus injection, developed by American rival Moderna, also uses mRNA technology.
Scientists believe that mRNA-based vaccines that trigger an immune response by delivering genetic molecules containing the code for key pathogen parts into human cells could be a game-changer against many diseases.
They also take less time to develop than traditional vaccines.
BioNTech’s COVID-19 injection was developed and approved by regulators in less than a year.
“We are witnessing the beginning of a revolution in medical science, the RNA messenger revolution,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at an online launch event on Monday.
“Eradication of malaria is now a real goal, and we now know that it can be achieved in this generation.”
During a conference call with reporters, Sahin said he believed BioNTech’s efforts to combat malaria had a “high likelihood of success.”
The fight against malaria gained momentum in April when researchers at the University of Britain’s Oxford University announced that their Matrix-M vaccine candidate was the first to surpass the WHO 75% efficacy threshold in an infant study in Burkina Faso.
A large-scale trial is ongoing at the final stage.