Project Lead(s): Dave Richard
Approximately 500 million cases of malaria occur each year, resulting in two million deaths, yet no effective vaccine for malaria has been developed to date.
Malaria vaccine development has been hindered by the sheer complexity of the parasite and its life cycle, extensive antigenic variation, and a poor understanding of the interaction between P. falciparum (the malaria pathogen) and the human immune system.
The objective of the project was to develop a malaria vaccine.
The project team sought to determine whether using Papaya mosaic virus nanoparticles as an adjuvant in a malaria vaccine would result in better protection against the disease when compared to alum, the adjuvant most often used in vaccines.
Expression of the protein in bacteria resulted in insoluble aggregates in inclusion bodies, which prevented immunization trials.
While the project team solved this roadblock and have successfully purified the model antigen Plasmodium Merozoite-surface protein-1, planned immunization trials could not be completed because of the delay.
Now, with the purified and refolded antigen produced, the team will be able to start the immunization protocol and assess the ability of the Papaya Mosaic Virus nanoparticles adjuvant to provide protection against a challenge with the murine malaria parasite Plasmodium chabaudi. This will be compared to the ability of the human licensed Alum adjuvant to provide protection in the same kind of challenge.
If the results obtained demonstrate that their adjuvant performs better than Alum, the next step will be to apply for funding to be able to continue studies in a non-human primate malaria model. This could be done through the normal Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Operating Grant competitions or Grand Challenges Canada Phase II Transition To Scale funding.