Stephen Hoffman, 58, founded Sanaria Inc, a biotech firm solely dedicated to the production of a vaccine against malaria.
Hoffman officially opened a manufacturing facility on Friday in the Washington suburb of Rockville, where he said he aims to produce 75 to 100 million doses a year. “The opening of this facility is an important step in the process to develop a whole-parasite malaria vaccine,” he said. The scientist said he was optimistic the vaccine could be tested in clinical trials by late 2008.
His goal, which has received US government support, was given a major boost in late 2006 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated 29.3 million dollars through the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Hoffman said. Hoffman knows the debilitating effects of malaria all too well.
In the 1980s, when he was director of the US Navy’s malaria research programme, he was so confident in a new vaccine that he reportedly let himself be bitten by mosquitoes carrying Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite responsible for over 95% of severe malarial illnesses and deaths worldwide.
Sure enough, he came down with the symptoms. The vaccine did not work. Despite that failure, the researcher has taken the same approach and hopes that a vaccine can be mass produced and maintain its potency. His firm is “turning the mosquitoes into the production factories for the vaccine,” he said, adding that each mosquito can produce two doses of the vaccine. “We have a long way to go before we’ll be able to license and deploy an effective vaccine to control and eventually eradicate malaria from the world, but most importantly to prevent the 3,000 deaths that will occur today among children and one million in a year.”
Source:The Times Of India