German biopharma ARTES follows GSK’s malaria vaccine announcement

By Fiona Barry

- Last updated on GMT

(Picture credit: Peleda)
(Picture credit: Peleda)

Related tags Immune system

The German biopharmaceutical company ARTES has announced it is developing a malaria vaccine with Australian non-profit the Burnet Institute.

This is the second announcement within a week of plans to develop a vaccine against malaria, following GSK’s submission of a vaccine candidate​ to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).  

ARTES and Burnet’s project, like GSK’s, receives funding from the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), a programme sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The collaboration will use virus-like particles (VLPs, a type of nano-particle) created by the Burnet Institute and combined with ARTES’s production platform, Michael Piontek, Managing Director, ARTES, told Purified vaccine antigens (Pfs​25 and Pfs​230) will be produced as VLPs taken up by immune cells to prime the immune system to fight malaria.

Piontek said he first became aware of Burnet’s VLPs several years ago when they companies worked together on process development of another vaccine. “Duringthat project we came across the VLP technology they originally developed in Melbourne.

They found there’s a surface antigen from the Duck Hepatitis B virus (DHBV) which forms virus-like particles which can be used to present foreign antigens on the surface of those particles. We found this has very broad applicability for vaccines – and using our platform we can produce these VLPs at a very low cost, and very reliably and safely.”

Piontek’s company took over the VLP technology, he said, and produced it with ARTES’s own Metavax platform, which uses yeast cell lines.

As well as Pfs​25 and Pfs​230, the subjects of this collaboration, ARTES is working on other malaria targets. Plasmodium, the malaria parasite, has different stages in its life cycle, producing different surface antigens as it develops within the mosquito and later when it transfers to a human. So an efficient malaria vaccine should be composed of different proteins which work against multiple targets, said Piontek.

This pathogen is so complex and escapes very efficiently, which is why it’s a more complex task to develop a vaccine for malaria than for other diseases.​”

ARTES will hold patent rights for the resulting vaccine.

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