ADi awarded $2.5M SBIR grant to identify malaria protection biomarkers

Monday, August 13, 2012 10:13 AM

Antigen Discovery (ADi), a biotech based in Irvine, Calif., has received a phase II Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health.

The three-year award, totaling approximately $2.5 million, is a continuation of a phase I SBIR grant to scan the Plasmodium falciparum proteome for protective antigens. The funds will support a collaborative research effort between ADi and Sanaria, a malaria-focused biotech of Rockville, Md., to use ADi's proteome microarrays to identify biomarkers associated with responses to the administration of Sanaria's malaria products in human trials—including Sanaria PfSPZ Vaccine (radiation attenuated sporozoites), Sanaria PfSPZ Challenge (fully infectious sporozoites) and Sanaria PfSPZ-CVac.

"By comparing the serum antibody profiles from vaccinees who are protected with those who are not, we aim to identify surrogate antibody biomarkers associated with sporozoite vaccine mediated protection. Such markers are a critically important component of vaccine development," said Philip Felgner, principal investigator, founder and chairman of ADi.

Additionally, serum samples will be analyzed from clinical studies conducted at Radboud University Nijmengen Medical Center (RUNMC) in The Netherlands, in which volunteers were completely protected after being immunized by the bite of mosquitoes carrying viable (non-irradiated) PfSPZ while taking chloroquine chemoprophylaxis to prevent blood stage infection. The protection lasted for two years. 

"We are pleased and privileged to have the opportunity to work with the Sanaria and RUNMC teams on this exciting project and grateful for continued support from the NIAID," said Xiaowu Liang, president and CEO of ADi.  "We aim to develop a diagnostic test that can predict vaccine mediated protection, and to identify antigens that may be used to produce an effective subunit vaccine."

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