16 Sep 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (16 September 2014)—The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) welcomes an announcement on September 16 by Japan’s Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) of a grant of US$766,000 to MVI and its partner Ehime University to fast-track the development of a novel malaria vaccine candidate, Pf75. This new vaccine approach is targeted at blocking malaria parasite transmission between humans and mosquitoes, thereby supporting elimination and eventual eradication efforts.

The project addresses one of the main challenges in developing malaria vaccines—that very few target antigens, including with potential to induce immunity to interrupt transmission, have yet been identified. GHIT Fund funding will enable the partnership of MVI and Ehime University to accelerate Pf75 development, via the use of pre-specified stage-gates, to determine its suitability for future clinical evaluation.  

“The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative values our growing relationships with both the GHIT Fund and Ehime University,” said MVI director Ashley Birkett, PhD. “We appreciate this grant and are excited to work on the new approach with our partners in Japan. It’s exciting to see how the GHIT Fund is harnessing Japanese innovation with investments to support new international R&D partnerships and join the global fight against malaria and other infectious diseases. We are particularly pleased that this investment will further boost our pursuit of new vaccines to support malaria eradication.”

MVI is committed to accelerating the development of vaccines that contribute to the ultimate eradication of malaria and that are appropriate for use by populations in low-resource, malaria-endemic settings. The GHIT Fund’s investment will advance efforts in one of MVI’s priority research and development areas: transmission-blocking vaccines.

This award is the second grant to MVI from the GHIT Fund. The first grant, awarded in 2013, enabled MVI and project partners at Ehime and CellFree Sciences to produce specific proteins for the purpose of developing monoclonal antibodies and to evaluate them for their ability to block parasites from invading liver cells, thus enabling the prioritization of antigens for future vaccine development.

The GHIT Fund, launched in April 2013, is the world’s first product development fund for global health research and development. Members of the Fund’s council include representatives from government, the pharmaceutical industry, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The combination of Japan’s government and its pharmaceutical industry—the third largest in the world—brings a powerful engine of knowledge and innovation to the development of medications for the developing world.

About the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative: MVI is a global program established at PATH through an initial grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. MVI’s mission is to accelerate the development of malaria vaccines and ensure their availability and accessibility in the developing world. MVI’s vision is a world free from malaria. For more information, please visit www.malariavaccine.org.

About PATH: PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, we save lives and improve health, especially among women and children. We accelerate innovation across five platforms—vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations—that harness our entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, we take innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. Together, we deliver measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health.