Malaria eradication through vaccination – a life-long quest and the passion of science


Professor Michael Good has been on a 25-year quest to develop a vaccine for malaria, which infects up to 500 million people each year and kills anywhere between 1 million and 3 million of them.


In August 2009, Professor Good (AO) won Australia's top award for science leadership, the Eureka Prize, and was a State Finalist for Australian of the Year. Amongst other things, this extraordinary recognition was for his pioneering work in showing that injection of a small number of whole malaria parasites can generate a protective immune response; in other words, constitute a viable vaccine.


At the end of June, 2010 Professor Good left the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, where he had been Director for the best part of a decade, to begin a 5 year Australia Fellowship at Griffith University, joining the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance in the process. Why? Because of his passion to develop the low-dose, whole-parasite vaccine into a form suitable to begin phase-one clinical trials in humans. "It's always been apparent this is an important area because malaria kills so many, especially children under five. To give up is unthinkable," says Professor Good.


Professor Good also recognises that there is more than one way to develop a vaccine against malaria and more than one idea that should be considered and discussed. For these reasons, he has arranged sponsorship to bring another internationally renowned malaria vaccine researcher, Dr Stephen L. Hoffman, the most highly cited malaria researcher in the world, to Australia, from the USA, to speak at the 2011 Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. (ASP), being held in Cairns from July 10 to 13.


So convinced of the need to develop a live vaccine against malaria was Dr Hoffman that, in 2002, he took the dramatic step to form a company, Sanaria (, specifically to develop a malaria vaccine - "Malaria eradication through vaccination" is their catchcry.


Dr Hoffman believes that an ideal, single stage vaccine to eliminate the most deadly malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, would prevent infection at the pre-red blood cell stage of the parasite life cycle, thereby preventing all Plasmodium falciparum-caused disease and transmission from humans to mosquitoes. He says that, "The only approach to immunisation shown to consistently induce greater than 90% protection against infection and with protection sustained for at least 10-28 months, has been immunisation by mosquito bite with whole Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites of two types. The first type, radiation-attenuated sporozoites, invades liver cells and expresses new proteins, but cannot replicate. The second type, develops fully in liver cells, producing tens of thousands of merozoites that invade red blood cells, but are unable to fully develop within red blood cells because they are killed by chloroquine taken by the individual during the course of immunisation."


Sanaria is working on development of both these styles of vaccine and, in 2011 and 2012, plans to execute multiple clinical trials at multiple clinical trial centres in North America, Europe, and Africa.


Queensland Tropical Health Alliance (QTHA) scientists will debate the malaria eradication agenda at the network's inaugural scientific conference on July 16-17 at the Pullman Reef Casino Hotel in Cairns, Australia.



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