HEIDELBERG, GERMANY--(Marketwire - Feb. 1, 2013) - The European Commission (EC) recently committed ~EUR6 million to the PlacMalVac project that has as its objective the clinical development of a vaccine candidate against pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM). Dr. Odile Leroy, Executive Director of the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) -one of the five partners involved in PlacMalVac- said that "Together with another grant recently awarded to EVI by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF) to support two other projects related to PAM -PRIMALVAC and PAMCPH-, EVI has been instrumental in the mobilisation of EUR16 million for the development of vaccines against this type of malaria which specifically affects a particularly vulnerable demographic group: pregnant women."
Every year, PAM threatens more than 100 million pregnant women, causing the death of an estimated 10,000 women and up to 200,000 infants. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to malaria due to a particular type of pathology caused by the clumping of red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in the placenta, leading to growth retardation and preterm delivery, which in turn cause higher infant mortality. A protein called var2CSA is the leading candidate for a PAM vaccine and is the basis of the vaccines that are developed by the three projects.
Currently for PAM the only preventive strategies to improve maternal and fetal outcomes include intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) and insecticide-treated bed nets. However, resistance to drugs used for IPT by the parasite and waning efficacy of the bed nets due to insecticide resistance in the vector represent major threats, and vaccines against malaria do not exist to date.
Dr. Odile Leroy: "With these three projects EVI has become the leading Product Development Partnership to advance the development of vaccines against pregnancy-associated malaria." Apart from the funding provided by the BMBF and the EC, the three projects receive major co-funding from Irish Aid (through EVI), the Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm) and the Institut National de la Transfusion Sanguine (INTS), and additional contributions from the Universities of Copenhagen and Benin, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and by ExpreS2ion Biotechnologies, respectively.
For full press release check: