Sanaria Receives Substantial Investment from EU Malaria Fund

Maryland’s Sanaria received a financial infusion of €12.9 million (about $15.3 million) from the EU Malaria Fund (EUMF) that will fund the development of two Malaria vaccines, one Malaria prophylactic, and a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Malaria is a life-threatening, mosquito-borne disease that impacts billions of people across the globe, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The EUMF, a public-private partnership between the European Union and international organizations, provides funding to combat the disease. The mission of the Germany-based fund is to support the control and potential eradication of malaria. The funds awarded to Sanaria will be used to finance the development of three assets and mark the first time a U.S.-based company received funding from the EUMF.

Sanaria’s first malaria vaccine candidate, PfSPZ Vaccine, is a radiation-attenuated whole-organism vaccine, meaning it is a weakened form of the parasite that causes malaria. The vaccine candidate, on the cusp of initiating Phase III studies, aims to generate a robust and durable immune response against the mosquito-borne pathogen. If the vaccine is successful in the late-stage study, it could become the first malaria vaccine to be supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) for wide use. In addition to PfSPZ Vaccine, Sanaria is also developing a second-generation malaria vaccine, PfSPZ-CVac. This vaccine candidate focuses on increased potency and decreased costs, according to the company. In addition to the malaria vaccines, Sanaria is also developing human monoclonal antibody treatments to provide immediate short-term protection against malaria.

The funding from EUMF will also be used to advance research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Sanaria is developing OraCOV, an oral, self-administered vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus that is based on the company’s malaria vaccines.

Sanaria Founder and Chief Executive Officer Stephen L. Hoffman said a vaccine against malaria is an essential tool necessary to control and eliminate the illness, which continues to “exact a devastating toll” on under-served populations in sub-Saharan Africa. Even though malaria is a significant public health concern in that region, Hoffman said the funds for malaria research have been “far from sufficient” when compared to the magnitude of the situation.

“We applaud the establishment of the European Union Malaria Fund to address this critical funding gap. We are grateful and honored to be the recipient of this investment,” Hoffman said in a statement.  “Sanaria was founded to develop attenuated, whole-parasite, PfSPZ vaccines for preventing malaria and we are grateful and honored to be the recipient of this financial investment by the EUMF in Sanaria’s PfSPZ malaria vaccine program.”

EU Malaria Fund Signing Ceremony

The EUMF was initiated by kENUP Foundation and is supported by the WHO. Pedro Alonso, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Program, expressed confidence in the work supported by the EUMF. Alonso touted the work performed by Sanaria. He said the company has been at the “forefront of innovation” in malaria and is “bringing novel concepts to the table potentially reducing the unacceptable burden of malaria.”

Holm Keller, Managing Director of EUMF and Chairman of kENUP Foundation, also chimed in with his support.

“We are very excited about this new investment. Sanaria has developed one of the most advanced Malaria vaccines worldwide. We hope that this investment will help to achieve the eradication of Malaria,” Keller said in a statement.

For Sanaria’s Hoffman, the EUMF award was followed by receiving the Clara Southmayd Ludlow award at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual conference. The award recognizes honorees for an inspirational and pioneering spirit, whose work represents success despite obstacles, and advances the field of tropical medicine.

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Alex Keown is a freelance journalist who writes about a variety of subjects including the pharma, biotech, and life science industries. Prior to freelancing, Alex has served as a staff writer and editor for several publications.