GSK malaria vaccine set for pilot studies with $15M commitment

GlaxoSmithKline's Mosquirix is set for pilot programs in sub-Saharan Africa with a new $15 million commitment, according to the World Health Organization

Last fall, the WHO recommended GlaxoSmithKline’s malaria vaccine undergo local pilot programs that would test its real-world efficacy, adding a roadblock to a broader launch. Now, the agency said the first-of-a-kind shot is ready for those programs with $15 million in new funding from a global financing group.

Mosquirix will be introduced through pilot projects in sub-Saharan Africa beginning in 2018, the WHO announced Thursday, with the countries taking place to be named “in the coming weeks.” The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was the latest to fund the efforts, announcing a $15 million contribution.

The Global Fund’s commitment follows pledges by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, of up to $27.5 million, and UNITAID of $9.6 million. The money will cover the first four years of the programs.

GSK and partner PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative “will collaborate to donate doses of RTS,S for use in the WHO pilots,” according to a statement.

While officials prep the pilot studies, data published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that the shot’s limited efficacy waned significantly over time. The WHO said the vaccine was to be used as a “complementary control tool” with existing antimalarial measures to fight the serious disease.

GSK’s vaccine was developed in conjunction with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and with support of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Another malaria vaccine in the works, developed by Sanaria of Rockville, Maryland, this summer posted “encouraging” Phase I results. In September, the shot was put on the FDA’s “fast-track.”