Malaria

P. falciparum Malaria: Developing a Synthetic Subunit Candidate Vaccine

Malaria is one of the most serious infectious diseases of humans, infecting 5–10% of the world’s population, with 300–600 million clinical cases and more than 2 million deaths annually. Moreover, malaria is a major social and economic burden in endemic areas. In recent years, malaria has spread at an alarming rate owing to the increasing resistance of the parasite to drugs, and the resistance of mosquitoes to insecticides. Therefore, new approaches to combat malaria are urgently needed, and a vaccine is predicted to have the greatest impact in addition to being the most cost-effective control measure.

Vaccine Development

One approach is to design a subunit vaccine that incorporates several malaria protein antigens for which there is evidence of protective immunity from epidemiological data or experimental animal challenge models. Development of such subunit vaccines is critically dependent on the availability of an antigen delivery system to drive suitable protein antigen-specific immune responses in humans. Vaccine formulations have to be highly effective, human-compatible and safe. Production of synthetic or recombinant proteins that stably mimic the native structure of the corresponding malaria antigens to induce effective humoral immune responses is a further major challenge.

Our research

We are addressing both problems by developing synthetic peptide structures that induce cross-reactive antibodies against the parent malaria proteins and by coupling them to the surface of immunopotentiating reconstituted influenza virosomes (IRIVs). In addition we are evaluating the use of so fare uncharacterized predicted proteins of Plasmodium falciparum as potential new candidate vaccine antigens.

Links

Babanezhad Harikandei K, Salehi P, Ebrahimi S.N, Bararjanian M, Kaiser M, Al-Harrasi A. Synthesis, in-vitro antiprotozoal activity and molecular docking study of isothiocyanate derivatives. Bioorg Med Chem. 2020;28(1):115185. DOI: 10.1016/j.bmc.2019.115185

Brancucci N.M.B, Heussler V.T, Gruring C. Targeting Plasmodium plasmepsin V: hitting two birds with one stone. Trends Parasitol. 2020;36(2):85-87. DOI: 10.1016/j.pt.2019.12.006

Curchod L et al. Temporal variation of pesticide mixtures in rivers of three agricultural watersheds during a major drought in the Western Cape, South Africa. Water Res X. 2020;6:100039. DOI: 10.1016/j.wroa.2019.100039

Farnham A, Utzinger J, Kulinkina A.V, Winkler M.S. Using district health information to monitor sustainable development. Bull World Health Organ. 2020;98:69-71. DOI: 10.2471/BLT.19.239970

Felger I, Snounou G, Hastings I, Moehrle J.J, Beck H.P. PCR correction strategies for malaria drug trials: updates and clarifications. Lancet Infect Dis. 2020;20(1):e20-e25. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(19)30426-8

Fuhrimann S et al. Variability and predictors of weekly pesticide exposure in applicators from organic, sustainable and conventional smallholder farms in Costa Rica. Occup Environ Med. 2020;77:40-47. DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2019-105884

Jacobi J et al. Utilization of research knowledge in sustainable development pathways: Insights from a transdisciplinary research-for-development programme. Environ Sci Policy. 2020;103:21-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2019.10.003

Müller-Schulte E, Tuo M.N, Akoua-Koffi C, Schaumburg F, Becker S.L. High prevalence of ESBL-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae in clinical samples from central Cote d'Ivoire. Int J Infect Dis. 2020;91:207-209. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijid.2019.11.024

Nhung N.T.T et al. Exposure to air pollution and risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular diseases amongst Vietnamese adults: case-crossover study. Sci Total Environ. 2020;703:134637. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134637

Pelikan K, Jeffrey R, Roelcke T. The time where the British took the lead is over” - ethical aspects of writing in complex research partnerships. Res Ethics. 2020(in press)