ARTES and Burnet Institute publish data on production and immunogenicity of malaria transmission-blocking vaccine candidates

ARTES Biotech­nol­o­gy and Bur­net Insti­tute recent­ly pub­lished data on the effi­cient pro­duc­tion of malar­ia vac­cine can­di­dates using virus-like par­ti­cles (VLP) pre­sent­ing malar­ia trans­mis­sion-stage anti­gens, which were capa­ble of induc­ing trans­mis­sion-block­ing anti­bod­ies. The devel­op­ment project fund­ed a.o. by the PATH Malar­ia Vac­cine Ini­tia­tive start­ed in 2014 aimed at strate­gies to pro­duce vac­cines that block the trans­mis­sion of malar­ia from mos­qui­toes to humans, which has been iden­ti­fied as an impor­tant glob­al goal.

Puri­fied trans­mis­sion-stage vac­cine anti­gens (Pfs25 and Pfs230) were pro­duced as chimeric VLPs with ARTESMETAVAX® plat­form. The study results demon­strat­ed that the VLPs effec­tive­ly induced func­tion­al trans­mis­sion-reduc­ing anti­bod­ies, assessed with the wide­ly used stan­dard mem­brane feed­ing assays for eval­u­a­tion of malar­ia vac­cines.

Malar­ia is one of the major threats to human health glob­al­ly, and the elim­i­na­tion of malar­ia depends on the devel­op­ment of an effec­tive vac­cine. Cur­rent­ly, the most advanced malar­ia vac­cine has been found to be mod­er­ate­ly effi­ca­cious. Thus, it is cru­cial to devel­op new strate­gies for improved vac­cine for­mu­la­tions that can gen­er­ate potent immu­ni­ty to malar­ia. Chimeric VLPs dis­play­ing tar­get anti­gens have emerged as a promis­ing strat­e­gy to devel­op and accel­er­ate new malar­ia vac­cine can­di­dates.

ARTES Biotech­nol­o­gy, the Ger­man bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal con­tract research and devel­op­ment com­pa­ny spe­cial­izes in micro­bial cell line and process devel­op­ment for recom­bi­nant pro­teins and vac­cines togeth­er with col­leagues at Bur­net Insti­tute, Aus­tralia, have recent­ly pub­lished data on the use of chimeric VLPs (METAVAX® tech­nol­o­gy plat­form).Two orig­i­nal arti­cles are avail­able in the inter­na­tion­al open-access jour­nal, PLOS ONE.

Under the titleDis­play of malar­ia trans­mis­sion-block­ing anti­gens on chimeric duck hepati­tis B virus-derived virus-like par­ti­cles pro­duced in Hansenu­la poly­mor­pha” the devel­op­ment of the Hansenu­la yeast cell lines and process­es for the expres­sion of trans­mis­sion-block­ing malar­ia vac­cine can­di­dates, Pfs25 and Pfs230, as VLPs are described. The accom­pa­ny­ing arti­cle enti­tled “Malar­ia vac­cine can­di­dates dis­played on nov­el virus-like par­ti­cles are immuno­genic and induce trans­mis­sion-block­ing activ­i­ty” fur­ther present data sup­port­ing the suc­cess­ful induc­tion of an immune response against the VLPs using ani­mal stud­ies.

The results demon­strat­ed that the incor­po­ra­tion of lead­ing trans­mis­sion-stage anti­gens into the METAVAX® plat­form is a promis­ing and nov­el strat­e­gy for their dis­play on nano-scaled par­ti­cles. The VLP plat­form is suit­able for the devel­op­ment of mul­ti-com­po­nent vac­cines to elic­it func­tion­al trans­mis­sion-block­ing immu­ni­ty. Fur­ther­more, com­pet­i­tive process­es for effi­cient pro­duc­tion and purifi­ca­tion are now avail­able and can be trans­ferred to oth­er promis­ing VLP vac­cine tar­gets. Future work to eval­u­ate immune respons­es in larg­er stud­ies of ani­mal mod­els using dif­fer­ent immu­niza­tion reg­i­mens and to opti­mize anti­gen pre­sen­ta­tion by VLPs will be high­ly ben­e­fi­cial to accel­er­ate the use of this plat­form for malar­ia vac­cine devel­op­ment.

With the pro­duc­tion of new malar­ia vac­cine can­di­dates, anoth­er mile­stone in the appli­ca­tion of our yeast based VLP plat­form METAVAX® for the devel­op­ment of human and vet­eri­nary vac­cines is show­cased, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of ARTES, Dr Michael Pio­ntek said.

The gen­er­a­tion of anti­bod­ies that block malar­ia trans­mis­sion in ani­mal stud­ies, is a promis­ing step for­ward and high­lights the poten­tial use of this approach for malar­ia vac­cine devel­op­ment, said Prof James Bee­son, Head of the Malar­ia Immu­ni­ty and Vac­cines group at Bur­net Insti­tute.