Biotechnology company Sanaria in Rockville, Md., plans to open a new malaria vaccine plant that was funded partially by a $29.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $3.5 million in federal small business grants, Gazette.Net reports. Sanaria, which has been building the plant over the past six months, in 2006 began producing a malaria vaccine in conjunction with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. The vaccine is distinct because it was developed through the exposure of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite to radiation.
NIH earlier this year awarded Sanaria two grants that were allocated toward Phase I and II clinical trials. The Phase I grant will help the company find ways to preserve the vaccine. The Phase II grant will go toward developing different strains of the parasite that can help determine the vaccine's effectiveness.
Sanaria CEO Stephen Hoffman said he expects the vaccine to be 90% effective. The plant opening is a significant step in the effort to translate Sanaria's research into a "safe, highly efficacious vaccine," according to MVI Director Christian Loucq.
Source-Kaiser Family Foundation