NIH News Release
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 18, 2000
Contact:
Sam Perdue
(301) 402-1663
sp189u@nih.gov

NIAID Awards Major Malaria Vaccine Research Contract

In its continuing efforts to promote research on vaccines to prevent malaria, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) recently awarded a seven-year, $43.8 million contract to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), McLean, Va., for malaria vaccine production and support services. The contract will support the transition of new malaria vaccine candidates from discovery in the laboratory up to clinical trials.

"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 countries."

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.