In a major scientific advance, scientists at the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, have discovered key antigens and say that the discovery would pave way for the development of a novel malaria vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, one of the species of the parasite that causes malaria in humans.
The study — supported with competitive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Vaccine Grand Challenge Program of the Department of Biotechnology — has recently been published in Infection & Immunity journal of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM).
The ICGEB scientists have tested a large number of antibody combinations for the invasion inhibitory potential and finally identified a combination of three parasite antigens that elicited potent inhibition against the P. falciparum strains.
“We have devised a novel approach that efficiently blocks the malaria parasite and leads to its neutralization. Based on this study, we have also filed a PCT application for the award of an International patent.” says Deepak Gaur, Principal Investigator in the Malaria Group, ICGEB and the lead corresponding author of the paper “Our study identifies key parasite antigens that can form the basis of an effective malaria vaccine. The next step is to devise a strategy to deliver these antigens to elicit potent im-mune responses in humans,” Chetan Chitnis, principal investigator in the malaria group at ICGEB, said.
The ICGEB malaria group is uniquely positioned with a large portfolio of antigens in its pipeline for the development of malaria vaccines.