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Dr. Christian Loucq, director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), will speak at a conference April 21–22 in Bonn, Germany, in the lead-up to the first World Malaria Day. The conference is entitled “Joining Forces, Synergising Action—Sustainable and Innovative Ways of Ensuring Long-Term Availability of Malaria Prevention and Treatment Measures by 2015,” and it brings together representatives of government and nongovernmental organizations, scientists, and business people. The conference will discuss integrated malaria control and ways to ensure that malaria prevention and treatment stay at the top of the international political agenda.

Dr. Loucq will speak about new tools and partnerships for malaria research and development. PATH board member Awa Marie Coll-Seck, executive director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, will also speak at the conference.

The forum comes just days before World Malaria Day on April 25, 2008. The day was established by the World Health Assembly in 2007 in recognition of the nearly worldwide reach of the disease. Africa Malaria Day had been observed on April 25 for close to a decade.

For MVI, the past year marked great advancement toward developing malaria vaccines. Results of a clinical trial in Mozambique, released in October 2007, showed that the most advanced malaria vaccine candidate—GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals’ RTS,S—provided similar protection for infants against infection and illness as among older children. These results will inform decisions around moving to a large, multi-center, Phase 3 trial, scheduled to begin in late 2008 or early 2009.

Another MVI-supported vaccine candidate—under development with Sanaria Inc.—moved into production of clinical-grade vaccine lots, following the establishment of a new production facility in Rockville, Maryland. This was a major milestone in the development of Sanaria’s live, attenuated, whole-sporozoite vaccine, as production of large vaccine lots had been regarded as a significant obstacle to the approach.

By the end of 2007, MVI was supporting eight malaria vaccine development projects and was pursuing new collaborative agreements. A new agreement with the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI) will pave the way for new projects, including the establishment of a human challenge center where potential malaria vaccines will be tested in human volunteers.

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Posted March 28, 2008.