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The German biotech group behind one of the most successful Covid-19 vaccines aims to develop a more effective vaccine against malaria, one of the deadliest diseases in the world.
Ugurshahin, Biological TechnologyIn an interview with the British Financial Times, the co-founder and chief executive officer of the company stated that there are “two types of problems” with existing vaccines. “Either the malaria vaccine does not work at all, or it only works for a short time.”
There is only one approved malaria vaccine-Mosquirix-and GlaxoSmithKline has spent more than 30 years developing it. It is only 39% valid for four years on average.
Sahin’s goal is to develop a malaria vaccine with a 90% effective rate within one to two years. Any vaccines that are eventually developed will be sold in Africa on a non-profit basis.
The company will cooperate with the kENUP Foundation’s malaria eradication program.
In addition to developing its own vaccine, BioNTech will also help produce and test other vaccine candidates in facilities in Africa. A promising candidate in the mid-term trial, called R21, may be the first to reach the World Health Organization’s goal of at least 75% efficacy.
Health officials say the fight against malaria has stalled in recent years. There were 229 million cases recorded in 2019, of which 94% occurred in Africa. Of the nearly 400,000 people who die from the disease each year, about two-thirds are children.
BioNTech became famous after cooperating with Pfizer to develop the first approved vaccine using messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), which instructs the body to make a part of the virus to produce an immune response. This success has allowed its stock price to rise 150% in the past year.
Like other coronavirus vaccine manufacturers, BioNTech is under pressure to abandon intellectual property rights. Promote vaccination plan In poorer countries.Shahin argued that this would stifle innovation and promised last month Invest in vaccine development in Africa.
Sahin said the company has been working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 2019, but the success of the mRNA vaccine against Covid-19 has greatly promoted efforts to improve global health.
His goal is to start clinical trials of vaccine candidates for malaria and tuberculosis in 2022. But he admitted that malaria may be as difficult to treat as cancer, and cancer has long been the focus of BioNTech’s research.
“This will not be a home run,” he said. “This is a very, very difficult pathogen to crack.”
The most successful malaria vaccine candidate so far targets the circumsporozoite protein. Shaheen hopes to test as many as 20 candidate vaccines. He said that the advantage of using mRNA to develop vaccines is that it makes it easier to test and produce other target proteins.
The project will be funded by BioNTech. Shahin declined to provide exact figures, but stated that the benchmark for early development was between 20 million and 50 million euros.