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Scientists pursue biotech approach to malaria vaccine development

Patrick E. Duffy, M.D., Chief, Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology (LMIV), Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, Division of Intramural Research, operates MVDR more like a private biotechnology firm than a typical research lab.

In 2001, NIAID commissioned LMIV to research, develop, and produce prototype malaria vaccines and conduct early-phase clinical trials of promising vaccine candidates. LMIV boasts an organizational structure well-suited to carrying out an effective vaccine development strategy, with separate units focusing on distinct steps of the vaccine development process.

LMIV is developing vaccines that target both the blood stage and the mosquito stage of the deadliest malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

A blood-stage vaccine is designed to elicit immune responses that can either destroy malaria parasites in the blood or inhibit parasites from infecting red blood cells. In either case, such a vaccine should decrease the incidence, severity, and complications of the disease. Blood-stage malaria vaccines either prime infant immune systems in anticipation of future exposure or boost natural immunity in young children who have already been infected by the parasite. LMIV researchers are currently evaluating blood-stage vaccines at sites in Mali, Africa, in collaboration with scientists at the NIAID-supported Malaria Research and Training Center in Bamako.

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Last Updated November 08, 2009