mRNA pioneer BioNTech announced recently that it is developing an mRNA-based vaccine to attempt to eradicate malaria.  Its efforts are geographically focused on Africa, and the company said it is furthering those efforts to build manufacturing capacity on the African continent.

This all comes on the heels of being the first to ever put an mRNA-based product on the market, its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Pfizer, demonstrated to be 95% effective.

“The response to the pandemic has shown that science and innovation can transform people’s lives when all key stakeholders work together towards a common goal,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder.

Malaria has been a difficult problem to solve throughout the decades, with scientists up until now unable to defeat the disease that infects millions of people every year and kills more than 400,000, with most of the victims being infants and young children in impoverished regions in Africa.

Malaria is caused by a parasite that avoids recognition by the immune system. Similar to the function of BioNTech’s  COVID-19 vaccine, the malaria mRNA vaccine is intended to cause human cells to make a protein that is a recognizable component of the malaria pathogen, invoking an immune response in the person receiving the vaccine. The antibodies built up during that process are meant to provide a defense in the event of exposure to the real pathogen.

“The very high efficacy of two mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 have shown the world just how powerful this technology could be against many diseases, including malaria,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

BioNTech said it will seek to target the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) and other antigens discovered in pre-clinical work and select the most promising vaccine candidate for a clinical trial to commence by the end of 2022.

Chief Operating Officer Sierk Poetting said the company would support the initial research and early production of the vaccine then work with its partners for large-scale trials, infrastructure build, and go-to-market.

Here are some reports relating to this story for your reference: EndpointsNews ; Reuters ; Bloomberg.

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Photo of Dan Shores Dan Shores

Dan Shores is a Partner at Rothwell Figg.  Dan is a dedicated patent lawyer and strategist who believes in his clients and the power of their ideas. He focuses on serving biotech, medical device, energy, software, cybersecurity, and other technology-based companies and understands

Dan Shores is a Partner at Rothwell Figg.  Dan is a dedicated patent lawyer and strategist who believes in his clients and the power of their ideas. He focuses on serving biotech, medical device, energy, software, cybersecurity, and other technology-based companies and understands the myriad of challenges that such companies face when breaking through and establishing themselves in their respective markets. Dan works with clients to build robust patent portfolios, protect trade secrets, negotiate strategic collaborations, conduct due diligence and landscape investigations, and prepare for success in funding rounds and exits. An engineer by education, and having extensive experience in transactional, litigation, procurement, and strategic counseling matters for technology-based companies, Dan is a problem-solver who excels at deciphering key translational aspects of a broad array of technologies to maximize leverage in the context of clients’ desired implementation of such technologies whether as participants in dynamic markets or as first movers.

Dan has served companies utilizing the following technologies (without limitation): mRNA therapies; lipid nanoparticle delivery technologies; genetically engineered swine and organs for xenotransplantation; artificial intelligence for drug discovery; CAR-T therapies; oligonucleotide development; pharmaceutical treatment of rhinitis with levocetirizine; pharmaceutical treatment of hepatitis B with telbivudine; genetically-modified cotton seed; fiber-optic probes for tissue investigation; implantable glucose-sensing devices; high throughput genetic seed-chipping technology; cybersecurity threat assessment platforms; interactive media systems for healthcare institutions; artificial intelligence (various applications); identification systems for cable-based medical devices; identification of digital positions of interest on media items; heat-treated glass with multilayer low-emissivity coatings; automotive and agricultural equipment; pressure-sensitive adhesives; three dimensional printing of buildings and other structures; and integrated electronic securities marketplace systems.

Dan is a registered patent attorney licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts and in the District of Columbia. He is a member of the bars of the Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Dan lives in Boston with his wife Lindsay and their two English Bulldogs Jarves and Rosie.