"Malaria continues to devastate communities throughout the world,
particularly in developing countries, and a vaccine to prevent this disease
is a top priority of NIAID," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID.
"This contract with SAIC is part of our ongoing effort to stimulate private
sector research on vaccines against common infectious diseases that
disproportionately strike those who can least afford health care."
Malaria, a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite, claims one life every
30 seconds and sickens 300 to 500 million people each year. It is the
world's leading parasitic killer and second only to tuberculosis as an
infectious cause of death.
Although a vaccine is needed, private companies are often hesitant to invest
significant resources on vaccines that offer little promise of financial
return. "The transition from basic to clinical research on malaria
vaccines, including production of pilot lots of clinical quality vaccines,
has been a particular bottleneck for the field of malaria vaccine
development," explains Stephanie James, Ph.D., head of the parasitology and
international programs branch of NIAID's Division of Microbiology and
Infectious Diseases. "This contract supports President Clinton's Millennium
Vaccine Initiative as it will accelerate development of new vaccines for one
of the deadliest and most common infectious diseases of developing
The contract with SAIC will advance promising vaccine candidates into
clinical trials by providing project support and assistance with vaccine
pilot lot production. SAIC project director William Bancroft, M.D., and
colleagues will provide project management, and academic and industry
scientists will work together using production facilities that are mainly
available in the private sector. NIAID will conduct the clinical studies.
NIAID is a longtime supporter of malaria research, and the contract with
SAIC is the latest in a series of recent steps designed to improve malaria
prevention and treatment. NIAID's Research Agenda for Malaria Vaccine
Development has increased support for basic research activities and clinical
trials at institutions located in malaria-endemic countries. Other efforts
include awarding a contract to the American Type Culture Collection to
create a resource center that provides malaria research reagents and
technologies to qualified investigators worldwide; providing partial funding
for sequencing the genome of the malaria parasite; and supporting a malaria
vaccine development unit within NIAID's Bethesda laboratories.
In 1997 NIAID became a founding member of the Multilateral Initiative on
Malaria (MIM), a consortium of research funding agencies created to improve
global collaborations in malaria research. MIM works closely with the World
Health Organization's Roll Back Malaria program and others to ensure that
research findings are applied to improve malaria control.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAID
supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat
infectious and immune-mediated illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and other
sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, autoimmune disorders,
asthma and allergies.
Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available
on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.