Local collaboration to reap global dividend
The challenge to develop a safe, effective and low-cost universal malaria vaccine is being tackled by a DMTC collaboration with James Cook University’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health Medicine (AITHM), Townsville Hospital, Glycosyn and Pfizer Hospira.
Led by Professor Louis Schofield, Director of the AITHM and a renowned expert in malaria, the project will be managed under DMTC’s national Medical Countermeasures Initiative. DMTC’s program represents a whole of government effort to develop vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics against biowarfare threats, infectious diseases and pandemics.
Malaria kills about 400,000 people around the world each year and is a significant health threat to Defence personnel deployed in tropical regions overseas. Currently there is no vaccine that can prevent both infection and disease transmission and that protects against all known strains, species and life-cycle stages of malaria.
“We are delighted to partner with DMTC in the manufacturing and clinical stage development of a universal malaria vaccine. If successful this project may solve a massive global problem which is also a key national health security risk,” Professor Schofield said.
This new DMTC project focuses on the development of GPIVax, a carbohydrate-based malaria vaccine candidate that shows strong pre-clinical efficacy across all species, strains and life cycle stages of malaria tested to date. GPIVax is the only current vaccine candidate to meet the globally endorsed Target Product Profile for a universal vaccine.
“This project is particularly suited for commercial development through local biotech,” Professor Schofield said.
The project will focus on pre-clinical toxicology work and conducting a Phase 1 clinical study targeting civilian volunteers in Australia. It seeks to establish a manufacturing capability compliant with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) – a specialised set of principles and procedures that ensure therapeutic goods are of the highest quality.
Dr Felicia Pradera, DMTC’s Program Leader for Medical Countermeasures said, “This is critical as Australia has limited vaccine development capability. It further enhances the capacity for local manufacture of products, which otherwise would have to be sourced and imported from overseas. It is also expected to create new market and export opportunities for Australian industry by developing the knowledge and skills base of our workforce.”