MIDRP Overview History & Achievements Current Research Efforts External Programs

Program Overview:
Malaria is caused by any of four species of the parasitic protozoan Plasmodium (P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale and P. knowlesi), and is transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito. As malaria occurs naturally in almost all tropical countries and many subtropical countries including Afghanistan and Iraq, the number of potential deployment locations in which military personnel could suffer from malaria and thus be unable to operate is large. Historically, during the last century, malaria has caused a greater loss of manpower than enemy fire in all conflicts occurring in tropical regions. According to the Malaria Foundation International, malaria is estimated to cause 300- 500 million clinical cases and over one million deaths each year. Children are the most vulnerable population with an estimated 200 to 300 children dying from malaria every hour. Pregnant women and non-immune adults are also extremely vulnerable. In addition to its health toll, malaria places a heavy economic burden on many affected countries, contributing to the cycle of poverty and limiting economic development. Currently, no licensed vaccine for malaria is available. An effective vaccine against malaria would significantly reduce this cost in human life and raise the standard of living of more than 2 billion people.

Overall, if a vaccine to prevent malaria can be developed, a host of problems will be solved for US military operations. A vaccine would shift the logistical burden from the field to the military medical facilities in CONUS, which are already equipped to administer vaccines, and which would have the opportunity to address the problem during peacetime, in advance of exposure. As a result, deployment and theatre operations would be freed from the logistical and financial burden of drug supply lines, drug administration, management of drug-related toxicity, malaria diagnosis and treatment, evacuation and post-deployment cost of care that currently are the norm.

Over the last decade, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has shown continued interest in the development of a malaria vaccine. At the present time, GSK is fielding a large multicenter trial of its malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The scientific basis and development of this vaccine is directly attributable to US Government programs, principally the WRAIR.

The MIDRP Malaria Vaccine Program is directing its efforts toward increasing our understanding of the correlates of protection, the identification of new protective pre-erythrocytic antigens, the delivery of such antigens by viral vectors, improved formulations of recombinant proteins and production of attenuated parasites (sporozoites). The MIDRP malaria program is also conducting a smaller effort at developing a vaccine against malaria caused by P. vivax. The vivax program goals include, developing and testing a number of P. vivax vaccine candidates using recombinant protein, DNA, and viral vector approaches in animal models. Antigen discovery and testing unique to P. vivax are being explored. Correlates of immunity are assessed for monitoring and use in human clinical trials. Concurrently, a human sporozoite challenge model of P. vivax is being developed to allow clinical testing in human efficacy trials. Candidate vaccines will be taken into clinical trials for demonstration of safety and efficacy as appropriate.

Malaria Drugs | Malaria Vaccines | Leishmaniasis