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UM School of Medicine Researchers Begin Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Vaccine Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases

August 13, 2019 | Joanne Morrison

Matthew Laurens, MD, MPH

A Single Vaccine Could Help Protect Against Malaria, Dengue and Yellow Fever

Mosquito-borne diseases including malaria, dengue and yellow fever, have a severe impact resulting in millions of deaths worldwide, hitting the world’s most vulnerable populations the hardest. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have begun testing an experimental vaccine that is designed to protect against a series of these diseases.

The experimental vaccine is important, as no vaccine to date offers full protection against malaria, which alone impacts more than 200 million people a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Children under the age of five account for 61% of all malaria deaths worldwide and continue to be the most vulnerable group affected by this disease.

Researchers at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD) at UMSOM have begun a Phase 1 clinical trial for an experimental vaccine called AGS-c PLUS, which targets proteins in mosquito saliva. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial will test safety and immunogenicity among small groups of healthy volunteers.

According to Matthew Laurens, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Principal Investigator for the clinical trial, the current vaccine follows an earlier four-peptide version of the vaccine tested at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of The National Institutes of Health (NIH). The current AGS-c PLUS vaccine that CVD is testing includes five peptides in efforts to train the immune response to recognize and target components of mosquito saliva, which may prevent diseases carried in mosquito spit glands. These diseases are transmitted to humans when mosquitoes bite and use their saliva to lubricate human skin and facilitate mosquito ingestion of human blood. Additionally, the vaccine may also reduce the lifespan of the mosquito that bites the vaccinated person.

Malaria Mosquito“The concept that one vaccine can simultaneously impact multiple diseases carried by mosquitoes has huge potential implications for global health. Diseases carried by mosquitoes disproportionately affect the impoverished, and frequently resurface and resurge due to environmental conditions that may relate to climate change. An effective tool to combat these deadly diseases could prevent around 700,000 deaths annually,” said Dr. Laurens.

AGS-c PLUS, developed by Imutex Limited, a joint venture between two UK-based companies, SEEK and h-VIVO. The clincial trial is currently funded by the Department of Health and Social Care in the U.S. and sponsored by the the National Institutes of Health. The study is actively recruiting participants for a blinded controlled trial. Participants will be enrolled for approximately 12 months. The study population includes healthy adults aged 18 to 50 years old.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world, with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs. The School of Medicine has a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and nearly $575 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of over $6 billion and an economic impact of more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu

About the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health

For over 40 years, researchers in the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health have worked domestically and internationally to develop, test, and deploy vaccines to aid the world’s underserved populations. CVD is an academic enterprise engaged in the full range of infectious disease intervention from basic laboratory research through vaccine development, pre-clinical and clinical evaluation, large-scale pre-licensure field studies, and post-licensure assessments. CVD has worked to eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases. CVD has created and tested vaccines against cholera, typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, non-typhoidal salmonella disease, shigellosis (bacillary dysentery), Escherichia coli diarrhea, nosocomial pathogens, tularemia, influenza, and other infectious diseases. CVD’s research covers the broader goal of improving global health by conducting innovative, leading research in Baltimore and around the world. CVD researchers are developing new and improved ways to diagnose, prevent, treat, control, and eradicate diseases of global impact. Currently, these diseases include malaria, typhoid, shigella and vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. CVD researchers have been involved in critical vaccine development for emerging pathogens such as Zika and Ebola. In addition, CVD’s work focuses on the ever-growing challenge of anti-microbial resistance.

Contact

Joanne Morrison
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
University of Maryland School of Medicine
jmorrison@som.umaryland.edu
Office: (410) 706-2884
Mobile: (202) 841-3369

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