Project: Malaria Research and Capacity building for field trials in Tanzania

Acronym MaReCa (Reference Number: TMA 2015 SF - 998)
Duration 01/04/2017 - 31/03/2022
Project Topic The most deadly form of malaria is caused by Plasmodium falciparum, that expresses antigens on the surface of the infected erythrocyte that enable the parasite to sequester to the vascular endothelium. The binding is mediated by a family of antigens called Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) encoded by about 60 var genes in each genome. Protective antibodies block the binding between the infected red blood cells and receptors on vascular endothelium. Due to the extensive variation within the PfEMP1 family a large repertoire of antibodies is needed before the individual is completely protected. Protection against severe forms of malaria is acquired after a few infections such as pregnancy-associated malaria. Here disease is caused by parasites expressing the variant of PfEMP1 called VAR2CSA, and anti-VAR2CSA antibodies mediate immunity against the syndrome. Recently we identified Endothelial Protein C Receptor (EPCR) as the most pathogenic PfEMP1 in severe malaria in children, and we need to characterize it by using well defined malaria patients. Interestingly vaccines based on PfEMP1 are attractive because they mimic natural occurring protective immune responses and could avert syndromes responsible the vast proportion of malaria deaths. The theoretical background for our approach is that antibodies that prevent the interaction between and its receptors are the main targets for acquired immunity, and that such antibodies can be induced by vaccination. To pursue the goal of making malaria vaccines, we will use bioinformatics, molecular biology, gene technologies, protein chemistry, structural chemistry, immunology, parasitology, vaccinology and clinical sciences. The vaccines that we are aiming to develop will be subject to administration to young children and women. The mosquirix (RTS,S/AS01) malaria vaccine protective efficacy is moderate and requires four doses. A more efficacious vaccine would be ideal and that is why we believe a PfEMP1 based malaria vaccine would meet such demands. The venture towards placental malaria vaccine and more efficacious malaria vaccine for children requires the availability of qualified scientists to conduct field trials in malaria endemic communities and apply molecular, immunology, parasitology and genomics to evaluate malaria vaccines at different stages of clinical development. We believe that throuh senior fellowship whereby a field team will be established in Korogwe and sustained through the fellowship as well as capacity development at Masters and PhD level for junior research scientist, the site will be readily prepared to test vaccine for placental malaria and a more potent malaria vaccien for children.
Network EDCTP2
Call Training and Mobility Awards: Senior Fellowships

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 National Institute for Medical Research - Tanzania Coordinator Tanzania