A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Seattle-based non-for-profit the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will help to move a novel malaria-vaccine candidate into clinical development.

The MoU will support IDRI’s collaboration with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) on a vaccine combining the former’s GLA-SE adjuvant with WRAIR’s malaria antigen CelTOS.

Preclinical studies to date have shown that combining CelTOS and GLA-SE in a vaccine candidate elicits potent immune responses in small animals and confers protection during the infectious mosquito stage of malaria parasites, IDRI noted.

A Phase I clinical trial with human malaria challenge is being funded by USAID, the WRAIR and a Gates Foundation grant awarded to IDRI.

USAID also provided funds for WRAIR’s preclinical trials of the CelTOS antigen, while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported IDRI’s CelTOS-specific adjuvant development activities.

As CelTOS is essential for establishing parasite infections in both human and mosquito hosts, IDRI, USAID, and WRAIR are hoping development of the CelTOS/GLA-SE malaria vaccine will “provide a significant new approach to a human malaria vaccine, targeting prevention of both human disease and transmission of the parasite back to the mosquito”, IDRI stated.