Our research and development strategy
Supporting the long-term goal of eradicating malaria
MVI's research and development (R&D) strategy supports the long-term goal of eradicating malaria. Building on our work to develop vaccines targeting illness and death, we are also targeting development of vaccines that would go beyond preventing illness to preventing infection and transmission of the malaria parasite.
Looking to the next five years, MVI will focus on two priority areas:
- Anti-infection vaccines (AIVs) and
- Transmission-blocking vaccines (TBVs).
AIVs are meant to prevent infection in people bitten by infected mosquitoes, while TBVs aim to prevent mosquitoes from becoming infected by malaria-causing parasites when they feed on infected people. These two approaches target key points in the life cycle of the malaria parasite—when the parasite transitions between the mosquito and human host and parasite numbers are low. MVI aims to declare at least one product development candidate targeting either parasite transmission or prevention of infection by the end of 2020.
The AIV approach is supported by the concept that immunization will provide durable, direct clinical benefit to the person immunized, and if sufficiently high vaccine coverage levels are achieved, benefit could also accrue to the wider community through a reduction in transmission of the parasite to unsustainable levels.
The TBV approach would not necessarily prevent malaria infection in the immunized person. Such a vaccine would reduce the number of mosquitoes carrying the parasite and thus the number of people in a community who are infected.
In addition to providing direct support for vaccine development, MVI invests in evaluation technologies to assess the potential efficacy of vaccine components. The program also defines acceptable vaccine product characteristics by developing target product profiles for vaccine candidates.
Most new projects come to MVI as preclinical feasibility studies, advancing to later stages of development only if the data generated warrant it. At any one time, MVI supports dozens of feasibility studies, but perhaps only a half-dozen vaccine approaches are in human testing. Increasingly, however, MVI is also supporting efforts to identify and validate new targets for vaccine development. Across its portfolio, MVI partners with academic and non-profit research groups, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and US government agencies.
MVI's R&D strategy focuses primarily on Plasmodium falciparum, the most destructive malaria parasite that is found mainly in Africa. However, the program continues to explore opportunities to develop vaccines against Plasmodium vivax, which causes a less severe—but more widespread—form of malaria.