The next-generation malaria vaccine could be delivered with nanoparticles made through methods developed by Liquidia Technologies.
The nanotech company, based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, has reached a collaboration agreement with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to use Liquidia’s patented PRINT method of designing and making nanoparticles. MVI is responsible for malaria vaccine development at PATH, an international nonprofit organization working to improve global health.
MVI was established in 1999 through a $50 million gift from the William H. Gates Foundation. MVI works to accelerate the development of malaria vaccines and to ensure their availability in the developing world. The World Health Organization reports that half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. It estimates that the 243 million cases in 2008 led to nearly 863,000 deaths. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2008 awarded MVI a $168.7 million grant to develop the next-generation malaria vaccine.
Financial terms of Liquidia’s agreement with MVI were not disclosed. Ashley Birkett, MVI’s director of pre- and early clinical research and development, said in a prepared statement that MVI is working to find second-generation vaccine approaches that will be more effective over longer periods of time. Liquidia said that the vaccine candidate will be used to deliver a protein in combination with immune stimulating molecules.
Liquidia was founded by Joseph DeSimone, a chemistry professor who holds dual appointments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. Privately held Liquidia has raised nearly $50 million in equity financing, including a $25 million series C round that closed last April. Its investors include venture capital firms Canaan Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Morningside Venture Investments Limited, Pappas Ventures and Firelake Capital. Wilmington, North Carolina-based clinical research organization PPD (NYSE:PPDI) is also a Liquidia investor.