Germany’s BioNTech aims to develop world’s first mRNA malaria vaccine
Mainz-based pharmaceutical lab BioNTech is already taking on an ambitious new project to create a revolutionary mRNA vaccine for malaria, less than a year after their groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine went into production. The vaccine would be a world-first for mRNA technology used to combat malaria.
More than 1 billion people are at high risk of contracting malaria
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1,1 billion people globally are at high risk of getting malaria, and more than 400.000 people die from the illness each year. Though advances in awareness and scientific research are constantly reducing the risk of dying from malaria, there are very few drugs licensed to treat the disease.
The BioNTech team hopes to have the vaccine in clinical trials in 2022, and could even begin to be administered to the general population in affected regions around 2023 or 2024. With an effective vaccine, BioNTech could become the world's first provider of mRNA malaria drugs.
The announcement of the project comes a year after the lab created the world’s first vaccine against the COVID-19 virus, together with its American partner Pfizer. Preliminary results suggest that the vaccine has been a success against COVID-19 in Germany and around the world.
BioNTech are using their new technology to combat other diseases
Malaria and COVID-19 are not the only illnesses that BioNTech has set its sights on combatting. The founders of the company both have backgrounds in oncology, and are keen to use their knowledge of mRNA technology to tackle several different types of cancer.
BioNTech is currently testing 14 clinical product candidates against cancer in 15 ongoing studies, while investing time, money and resources into producing new drugs against infectious diseases too - a truly impressive feat for a company with little more than 1.000 employees.
The scientific super-firm is also hoping to put an mRNA vaccine against tuberculosis into clinical trials in 2022. BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin told Der Spiegel, "In 15 years, a third of all drugs will be based on mRNA technology".