Novavax teams up to fight malaria

Novavax ($NVAX), CPL Biologicals (CPLB) and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) will team up to develop a malaria vaccine in India. The three entities will receive funding from India's Department of Biotechnology Vaccine Grand Challenge Program for the research.

The partnership targets Novavax's virus-like particle (VLP) technology, used to create malaria vaccine candidates. CPLB, a joint venture of Novavax and Cadila Pharmaceuticals, will take those VLPs and manufacture them for advanced preclinical studies, clinical trials and commercialization, according to a release. The idea is to develop VLPs that express Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein, which has been used to build the only recombinant malaria vaccine to show efficacy in field trials. After these VLPs are evaluated, the partners will look into making additional VLPs against antigens from other stages of malaria parasites. ICGEB will provide the malaria vaccine research capabilities.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne illness causing fever, chills and flu-like symptoms. Approximately 300 million to 500 million cases of clinical malaria occur each year and 40% of the global population live in areas that put them at risk of getting the disease, according to National Institutes of Health.

"CPLB will develop manufacturing processes for the vaccine candidates and will provide GMP production capability in support of this initiative," said Indravadan A. Modi, chairman of Cadila Pharmaceuticals. "Malaria is a common health problem for tropical countries and efforts have been ongoing for years for its eradication. I am confident that a multi-stage VLP malaria vaccine will prove beneficial in saving precious lives by restricting morbidity and mortality associated with malaria."

Novavax will also partner with PATH to develop its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine to protect infants through maternal immunization, according to a release. PATH awarded Novavax $2 million for initial funding under the partnership.

- see the release

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