BioNTech has announced that the launch of a new project aimed a developing a ‘highly effective’ mRNA-based malaria vaccine candidate.

The German biotech company has seen great success with its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, which is developed in partnership with Pfizer.

Now, BioNTech is looking to extend that success to malaria, which is estimated to have caused 409,000 deaths in 2019 alone.

As part of its project, BioNTech will aim to develop a safe and highly effective mRNA vaccine which can protect against malaria and disease-associated mortality.

BioNTech is set to evaluate multiple vaccine candidates featuring known malaria targets including the circumsporozoite protein (CSP), as well as new antigens discovered in the pre-clinical research phase.

The company will then select the most promising candidates for clinical development, with the start of the clinical trial for the first candidate planned for the end of 2022.

Also as part of the overarching project, BioNTech is aiming to pursue the development of sustainable vaccine production and supply solutions on the African continent.

This includes exploring possibilities to set up ‘state-of-the-art’ mRNA manufacturing facilities, either in partnership with others or on its own.

The company is planning to co-locate its African manufacturing capabilities with the technology transfer hubs under development by the World Health Organization (WHO), in alignment with the African CDC’s manufacturing strategy.

“The response to the pandemic has shown that science and innovation can transform people's lives when all key stakeholders work together towards a common goal. We are committed to bringing our innovations to those who need them most,” said Ugur Sahin, chief executive officer and co-founder of BioNTech.

“We are more than grateful to be part of the joint efforts of the Eradicate Malaria project. Together with our partners, we will do whatever it takes to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based Malaria vaccine that will prevent the disease, reduce mortality and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease,” he added.