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Global Strategy Aims For Effective Malaria Vaccine By 2025

2006-12-05 13:10



BANGKOK, Thailand, Dec. 5 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- A report by the world’s

leading international health organizations today calls for joint action to

accelerate the development and licensing of a highly effective malaria

vaccine.

The Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap, a new global strategy, is being

launched today in Bangkok at the Global Vaccine Research Forum which is

taking place from 3 to 6 December.

(Logo: http://www.prnasia.com/sa/20061102095006-51.jpg )

"Having a highly protective malaria vaccine and putting it into

widespread use in affected areas would be a true achievement for public

health. It would fulfill an urgent need,” said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny,

Director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research, World Health Organization

(WHO). "The Roadmap marks the first concerted global attempt at mapping out

a shared plan of action for making a preventive malaria vaccine reality."

The Roadmap is a pathway towards reaching the goal of developing a

malaria vaccine by 2025 that would have a protective efficacy of more than

80% against clinical disease and would provide protection for longer than

four years. An interim landmark would be to develop and license a first-

generation vaccine by 2015 with 50% protective efficacy against severe

disease and death that would last longer than one year.

Every year, there are 300-500 million cases of malaria and the disease

kills more than one million people, mainly African children. The plan calls

for the malaria vaccine community -- scientists, funding organizations,

policy experts and national and global decision-makers -- to work together to

develop an effective vaccine that prevents severe disease and death caused by

Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly form of the malaria parasite.

In the WHO South-East Asia Region, which includes Thailand, nearly 19

million estimated cases of malaria and an estimated 99 000 deaths occurred in

2005.

More than 230 experts representing 100 organizations from 35 countries

collaborated to develop and publish the Roadmap over a two-year period.

Leading malaria community representatives, experts, and funders held a series

of meetings to determine ways to overcome challenges facing the development

of a malaria vaccine.

Challenges include: scientific unknowns such as the lack of full

understanding of mechanisms of malaria infection, disease and immunity,

inadequate resources, limited private-sector involvement, and uncertain

mechanisms for procuring and distributing a successful vaccine.

The Roadmap puts into motion a strategic plan for aligning research and for

developing and making available a safe, effective and affordable vaccine to

prevent malaria in children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa and

other highly endemic regions. It presents 11 priorities within four major

areas of work that must be undertaken -- in a more coordinated manner than

previously -- by diverse parties towards the development of a malaria

vaccine. They are:

-- Research: standardizing procedures to compare immune responses

generated by vaccine candidates, using state-of-the-art approaches and

sharing information via the web to strengthen the connection between

laboratories and clinics.

-- Vaccine development: including pursuing multi-antigen, multi-stage, and

weakened whole-parasite vaccine approaches.

-- Key capacities: establishing readily accessible formulation and scale-

up development capacity, and building good clinical practice clinical

trial capacity in Africa and other malaria-endemic areas.

-- Policy and commercialization: dialoguing with countries and providing

data to facilitate policy decisions; securing sustainable financing;

and developing novel regulatory strategies to expedite the approval of

a safe vaccine.

"The pace of progress towards a malaria vaccine could dramatically

accelerate if these priority areas are successfully pursued," said Dr Melinda

Moree, Director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative which coordinated the

development of the Roadmap. "Information sharing and collaboration needs to

be stepped up to enhance learning across studies and eliminate redundant

work. Above all, continued commitment to this initiative is vital. Developing

an effective malaria vaccine is an enormous challenge, but it is within

reach."

The development of the Roadmap was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates

Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. These two foundations, as well as others

from the "malaria vaccine funders’ group" (see below), are investing

resources into priority Roadmap activities. They have recently been joined

in this endeavor by the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena who had never

before funded malaria vaccine projects.

Scientists have recently confirmed that it is possible to develop a

malaria vaccine. Currently, there are more than 30 potential vaccine

candidates under development-far more than there is capacity or funding to

investigate in clinical trials, especially in endemic countries.

Additional resources will be needed to support research on vaccine

candidates and to advance promising candidates through clinical development.

New and existing donors are urged to support priorities identified in the

Roadmap.

Malaria vaccine funders’ group

WHO, PATH MVI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome

Trust, together with representatives of the European and Developing Countries

Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the European Malaria Vaccine Initiative

(EMVI), the European Commission (Directorate General for Research), the

United States National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID),

and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) form part

of a malaria vaccine funders’ group, with the WHO Initiative for Vaccine

Research as its focal point. The group’s participation and support was

critical to the Roadmap process.

For further information, please contact: Melinda Henry, WHO Department of

Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, ( http://www.who.int/immunization ),

who will be at the Global Vaccine Research Forum in Bangkok from 29 November

to 8 December 2006 on mobile: +41 79 477 1738 or e-mail: henrym@who.int.

Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap:

http://www.MalariaVaccineRoadmap.net .

All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features as well as other

information on this subject can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home page:

http://www.who.int .

Source: World Health Organization
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