Market: BioNTech launches clinical trial with mRNA vaccine against malaria

BERLIN (Reuters) – German pharmaceutical group BioNTech announced on Friday the launch of a phase I clinical trial of its malaria vaccine candidate, which uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

Trials of this vaccine, called BNT165b1, involve recruiting 60 malaria-free volunteers in the United States for evaluation at three dose levels, BioNTech said in a statement.

BNT165b1 is the first vaccine candidate in BioNTech’s malaria project, which aims to develop a highly effective mRNA vaccine and establish vaccine production in Africa.

The company said it will initially evaluate different antigens from the malaria parasite over the next few months to select the multi-antigen vaccine candidate for subsequent trials.

Malaria, a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes, kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, mostly infants, in the poorest regions of sub-Saharan Africa.

The world’s first and only licensed malaria vaccine, Mosquirix, was developed by GSK after years of clinical trials in several African countries, but its effectiveness is only about 30%. In addition, lack of funding and market potential has limited GSK’s production capacity.

The innovative technology known as messenger RNA instructs cells to make proteins or protein fragments of a pathogen that stimulate the immune system’s action.

(Writing by Miranda Murray, French version Augustin Turpin, Editing by Kate Entringer)

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