The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to support early phase translational research that will generate new malaria vaccine candidates suitable for further downstream development and clinical evaluation. This research opportunity encourages studies that will lead to discovery of new vaccine candidates that prevent infection, ameliorate disease, and/or interrupt transmission caused by human malaria parasites, especially P. falciparum and P. vivax.
Malaria is a globally devastating, poverty-related disease responsible for more than 200 million clinical cases and close to half a million deaths worldwide each year. Development of a highly efficacious malaria vaccine with at least 75% protective efficacy is one of the R&D targets identified by the Global Vaccine Action Plan (http://www.who.int/immunization/global_vaccine_action_plan/GVAP_doc_2011_2020/en/) and the Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap (http://www.who.int/immunization/topics/malaria/vaccine_roadmap/en/), and critical for achieving the goal of malaria control, elimination, and, ultimately, eradication.
Currently, the malaria vaccine that is most advanced in development, RTS,S/AS01, only provides a moderate level of efficacy against clinical malaria at 28-36% in children (Lancet 386:31-45, 2015). Development of a second-generation malaria vaccine, based on either selected malaria antigens or whole parasites, with improved efficacy and durability of protection is thus crucial. Progress towards a second-generation malaria vaccine, however, has been significantly hampered due to limited numbers of promising vaccine candidates in development. Early vaccine discovery needs to be enhanced to generate more promising candidates to fill the global product development pipeline. For all life cycle stages of the parasites (including pre-erythrocytic stage, blood stage, and sexual stage), however, there are very few antigens identified and credentialed for new vaccine design. Whole parasite vaccine strategies have the potential advantage of expressing an extended range of antigens without the need for prior identification of specific ones. Nevertheless, these strategies can still encounter significant challenges in achieving desirable levels of immunogenicity. As a result, whole parasite vaccine strategies also need further development and optimization including balancing the appropriate levels of immunogenicity and attenuation. Given recent scientific advances in genomic, proteomic, immunomic, and other ‘omic’ approaches, as well as newly emerging genetic manipulation technologies, new high throughput microculture systems, and humanized mouse models, the field is well positioned to reinvigorate and broaden malaria vaccine discovery research.
This FOA invites the research community to submit applications focused on early discovery of malaria vaccine candidates, including those targeting one or more of the different life cycle stages (i.e., pre-erythrocytic stage, blood stage, and/or sexual stage) of the parasites that cause human malaria, especially Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax. Research targeting vaccines that are broadly protective against multiple strains or species of the parasites and/or that provide long lasting efficacy, is also highly desirable. The goal is to identify and credential more protective antigens, and to generate new or improved immunogens and novel vaccine candidates for the global malaria vaccine development community to take further into development.
This FOA will support the identification, characterization, credentialing and validation of new protective antigens or vaccine candidates with appropriate assay systems or animal models. For purposes of this FOA, protective antigens or vaccine candidates should demonstrate appropriate functional characteristics, such as prevention of infection, amelioration of disease, interruption of transmission, or prevention of relapse, or other functional features when applicable.
Examples of research topics include, but are not limited to:
- Identification, characterization, credentialing and/or validation of novel protective antigens/peptides/epitopes;
- Discovery of new effective vaccines utilizing novel technology platforms, adjuvants, or vaccine strategies with either new or already known malaria antigens;
- Structure-based vaccine design and testing;
- Construction of novel attenuated whole organism-based antimalaria vaccines, especially late liver stage-arresting whole sporozoite vaccines, using genetic manipulation of Plasmodium parasites;
- Screening, testing, credentialing and/or validation of new vaccine candidates with novel assays or animal models.
Deadlines: standard dates apply
Filed Under: Funding Opportunities