Ocean Biomedical, a Providence-based biopharmaceutical company, has announced their new anti-malaria vaccine and treatment approach at PATH Malaria Research Retreat in Washington, DC. Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, Ocean Biomedical’s scientific co-founder, shared details of the company’s unique anti-malaria vaccine that targets three critical ‘blood stage’ events. These events include entry into the red blood cell, intracellular development, and escape of parasites from the red blood cells. By targeting the three principles events in the parasite’s blood stage lifecycle, Ocean Biomedical believes that it will create a highly effective and novel malaria vaccine.

Dr. Kurtis, in his presentation, made a compelling case that the blood stage of the malarial cycle – a phase that has received inadequate attention during two-decade push to find a vaccine for malaria – is the most promising target for a maximally effective vaccine. Also, Dr. Kurtis presented novel data on both the biologic role and the discovery of small molecule drugs that yield better results for PfGARP within the parasite. Dr. Kurtis presented groundbreaking data demonstrating that PfGARP is vital for regulating parasite density, which increases the reproductive fitness of the parasite. Additionally, Dr. Kurtis presented data on a family of small molecule drugs that are very specific for PfGARP binding, non-toxic in multiple in vitro and in vivo systems, excellent pharmacokinetic properties, and rapidly kill P. falciparum parasites in animal models.

Global Need

Malaria remains the greatest single-agent killer of children on the planet, killing approximately 627,000 individuals in 2022. The spread of parasites resistant to artemisinin-based drug therapy, which is the mainstay of treatment, has threatened recent progress achieved by antimalarial campaigns. In a 2022 report, the World Health Organization warned of a surge in mosquito-borne diseases due to global warming, which is increasing vector survival and biting rates.

Ocean Biomedical’s efforts come at a time when malaria deaths are on the rise again, and hospitalizations for severe malaria are increasing dramatically in sub-Saharan Africa. Current malaria vaccines have shown efficacy for infants of less than 11%, after having three doses. Resistance to artemisinin malaria treatments has spread throughout SE Asia and is expanding at an alarming rate in sub-Saharan Africa. And there is no class of anti-malarial drug currently reserved for severe malaria.

Leadership Comments

Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, scientific co-founder, an Ocean Biomedical’s board of directors, and Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, said, “The world desperately needs new drugs for severe malaria and a highly efficient malaria vaccine. We’re hopeful that our approach might lead to a revolutionary vaccine and a whole new class of anti-malarial drugs. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to share this work with colleagues at PATH.”

Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, the Chairman and co-founder, said, “We look forward to bringing these malaria vaccine candidates to the people of Asia and Africa and to the possibility of preventing the leading cause of childhood deaths globally.”

Elizabeth Ng, Ocean Biomedical’s CEO, said, “With the rising resistance to artemisinin-based drugs in sub-Saharan Africa, it is imperative that we get new malaria therapeutics into the drug development pipeline. We are pleased to be working on multiple solutions to this ongoing global health crisis and to have the opportunity to share it with some of the nation’s top malaria researchers.”

Suren Ajjarapu, an Ocean Biomedical Director, commented, “This malaria vaccine discovery, along with the prior discovery of bispecific antibodies and immune checkpoint inhibitors that kill Glioblastoma cells and melanoma cells, will save thousands of lives and lead to long-term shareholder value growth.”

Jerome Ringo, an Ocean Biomedical Director, and Goodwill Ambassador to the Pan-African Parliament said, “For decade after decade, economic opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa has been crippled by the relentless presence of malaria, which kills far too many children and permanently impacts too many others who survive. I join the World Health Organization 2023 in saying, it is time for ZERO Malaria.”

Ocean Biomedical

Ocean Biomedical is a Providence, Rhode Island-based biopharma company with an innovative business model that expedites the development and commercialization of scientifically compelling assets from research universities and medical centers. The company is thus deploying the funding and expertise to move new therapeutic candidates efficiently from the laboratory to the clinic, to the world. Currently, Ocean Biomedical is developing five promising discoveries that have the potential to achieve life-changing outcomes in lung cancer, brain cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and the prevention and treatment of malaria.

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By James paul

James Patel is a tech journalist with a keen interest in emerging technologies and their impact on society. He is known for his insightful analysis and in-depth coverage of topics such as AI, cybersecurity, and the future of work.

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