Col Christian Ockenhouse, Director , Division of Malaria Vaccine Development US Military Malaria Vaccine Program, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research presented at the World Vaccine Congress about the advancements in malaria vaccine production.
Malaria has been a significant threat to US military operations for more than 200 years. Col. Ockenhouse said that the US Military Malaria Vaccine Research Program dates back to the mid 1980's. His goal is aligned with international goals to develop a first generation vaccine with 50% efficacy by 2015 and a 2nd generation vaccine with 80% efficacy by 2025.
According to Col. Ockenhouse, 350-500 million people are at risk for malaria, and 750,000 children are infected per year. Nets have made an impact but very few people have access to them and the limited funds for malaria control appear to be focused disproportionately in smaller countries.
Col. Ockenhouse says that objectives for stopping malaria via a vaccine can be to prevent infection, lessen disease or block transmission. He is working on vaccines that are aimed at preventing the parasite from entering the liver. Whole organism and subunit-based vaccine approaches are being used.
First generation vaccine clinical trials in partnership with GSK were not as effective as hoped. How can they get to 80%? His approach to second generation vaccines is using a heterologous prime boost approach combining additional candidate antigens. A Phase 2a trial is underway with malaria challenge of Crucell's Ad35.CS boosted with GSK vaccine. They are also looking at a new combination of antigens in partnership with USAID and WRAIR.
There are still challenges ahead. Can they identify correlates of protection? Is there a role for systems biology? Does immune response to Hep B dictate response to malaria vaccine? Can we us structural biology to design a better immunogen? Safety of novel adjuvants need to be assessed. They also want to avoid me-too vaccines.
Interesting presentation on vaccine research breakthroughs
Check back here in a couple of days for the presentation to learn more about the latest developments in malaria vaccine. Excellent presentation Col Christian!