Malaria is caused by parasites, which are transmitted by mosquito bites. Of the five parasites capable of infecting humans, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, are responsible for over 95% of all infections worldwide. P. falciparum causes the most severe form of malaria, Malaria tropica, accounting for the vast majority of fatal cases. P. vivax, the most widespread parasite (e.g. responsible for more than 50% of malaria cases in India and Brazil) poses a particular problem, as dormant forms of the parasite can remain in the body for years and can induce repeated outbreaks of the disease in the absence of new transmission. Sumaya’s goal is the development of vaccines against both, P. falciparum and P. vivax infections, whereby the first focus is on vaccines against P. falciparum.
Sumaya’s vaccines aim at alerting the human immune system towards two crucial stages of the parasite’s infectious cycle: the liver and the blood stage. This is a key competitive differentiator against most existing approaches.