Gates gives $8.9M to fund new malaria vaccine approach

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is back in action again, this time giving Seattle Biomed an $8.9 million grant from to identify biomarkers that will allow malaria vaccine design based on predictors of protective immunity. The company's researchers will employ systems biology to discover malaria biomarkers. Systems biology is the idea of studying the "whole biological organisms in context, rather than one gene or protein in isolation," explains Xconomy.

Ruobing Wang, who will lead the study, says Seattle Biomed hopes to identify immune biomarkers associated with protection against malaria infection. The company's researchers think that by identifying universal biomarkers for the disease, they'll be able to tell in early trials whether a vaccine is working--long before the company pumps large amounts of cash into late-stage trials.

"In order to bring the burden of malaria under control--with the ultimate goal of eradicating the pathogens that cause disease--we know we need a highly efficacious anti-infection vaccine," Wang explained in a statement. "But, without reliable biomarkers of anti-infection immunity, the development and testing of malaria vaccines is a slow and expensive process." Identifying malaria biomarkers "will facilitate future malaria vaccine trials with the ultimate goal of accelerating the development of a highly effective malaria vaccine that has the potential to save millions of lives."

- read the Seattle Biomed release
- here's more from Xconomy