The overall goal of this R21 research proposal is to develop and evaluate the potential of a novel chimeric construct based on Pvs25 as an effective Plasmodium vivax transmission blocking vaccine (TBV). Given the emergence and spread of drug-resistant parasites, and the global malaria eradication agenda, the development of novel tools to control malaria transmission is an essential priority. Plasmodium vivax is the most prevalent of the human malaria parasites outside Africa with an estimated 80% of the cases in South and Southeast Asia and 70% in the Americas. Although Pvs25 vaccine constructs have reached a phase of clinical development, a main concern in the field is its poor immunogenicity. Strategies used to date to enhance the immunogenicity include changes in the delivery system and formulation. However, a clinical trial using a water- in-oil emulsion was halted due to severe systemic adverse events. New methodologies to improve safety and immunogenicity of Pvs25 are required. We have recently shown that the homospecific CD4+ help, provided by the genetic linkage of tandem Plasmodium promiscuous T cell epitopes to a merozoite vaccine candidate, improves efficacy by a direct effect on the quality of the antibody response. We hypothesized that this T helper module (HM) can be used as a carrier molecule to enhance the immunogenicity of Pvs25 and induce a robust transmission blocking immunity. We have genetically fused the synthetic gene encoding HM into a codon optimized synthetic gene encoding Pvs25. The hybrid gene has been successfully expressed in E. coli in a properly folded conformation. The studies proposed aim to (1) test in comparative experiments in mice the effect of a HM on Pvs25 immunogenicity and (2) assess the safety and immunogenicity of the novel chimeric construct in rhesus macaques. Transmission blocking immunity will be tested in vivo using a P. berghei transgenic parasite expressing Pvs25 and in vitro using standard membrane-feeding assays. These studies have the general goal of showing that a HM can be used as a carrier platform for poorly immunogenic malaria antigens. Given the dramatic impact of malaria with increasing attention on the widespread and severe nature of P. vivax, and the urgent need for novel control measures to reduce transmission, our proposal has the potential to serve as the framework for future development of effective multi-stage vaccines.

Public Health Relevance

Malaria caused by P. vivax is a major worldwide health problem with likely annual infections estimated at 132 to 391 million of cases. P. vivax is characterized by its wider geographic distribution than P. falciparum with 2.6 billion of people at risk of infection. P. vivax malaria is resurging and now represents a serious threat in areas where it had been eradicated. The emergence and spread of P. vivax drug resistant strains has brought increased emphasis to the need for alternative prophylactic and therapeutic strategies to control this infection. An effective transmission blocking vaccine is an essential tool for a malaria elimination program.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Vaccines Against Microbial Diseases (VMD)
Program Officer
MO, Annie X Y
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Emory University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Cabrera-Mora, Monica; Fonseca, Jairo Andres; Singh, Balwan et al. (2016) A Recombinant Chimeric Ad5/3 Vector Expressing a Multistage Plasmodium Antigen Induces Protective Immunity in Mice Using Heterologous Prime-Boost Immunization Regimens. J Immunol 197:2748-61
Fonseca, Jairo Andres; Cabrera-Mora, Monica; Singh, Balwan et al. (2016) A chimeric protein-based malaria vaccine candidate induces robust T cell responses against Plasmodium vivax MSP119. Sci Rep 6:34527
Fonseca, Jairo Andres; Cabrera-Mora, Monica; Kashentseva, Elena A et al. (2016) A Plasmodium Promiscuous T Cell Epitope Delivered within the Ad5 Hexon Protein Enhances the Protective Efficacy of a Protein Based Malaria Vaccine. PLoS One 11:e0154819
Arévalo-Herrera, Myriam; Lopez-Perez, Mary; Medina, Luz et al. (2015) Clinical profile of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections in low and unstable malaria transmission settings of Colombia. Malar J 14:154
Cabrera-Mora, Monica; Fonseca, Jairo Andres; Singh, Balwan et al. (2015) Induction of Multifunctional Broadly Reactive T Cell Responses by a Plasmodium vivax Circumsporozoite Protein Recombinant Chimera. Infect Immun 83:3749-61
Lopez-Perez, Mary; Álvarez, Álvaro; Gutierrez, Juan B et al. (2015) Malaria-related anemia in patients from unstable transmission areas in Colombia. Am J Trop Med Hyg 92:294-301
Ferreira, Amanda Ribeiro; Singh, Balwan; Cabrera-Mora, Monica et al. (2014) Evaluation of naturally acquired IgG antibodies to a chimeric and non-chimeric recombinant species of Plasmodium vivax reticulocyte binding protein-1: lack of association with HLA-DRB1*/DQB1* in malaria exposed individuals from the Brazilian Amazon. PLoS One 9:e105828