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Ocean Biomedical co-founder Jonathan Kurtis presents detailed data on malaria vaccine at conference
Dr. Kurtis shared details of the company's unique anti-malaria vaccine that targets three critical ‘blood stage’ events
Ocean Biomedical, Inc. (NASDAQ: OCEA) is a biopharma company that works with research universities and medical centers for developing and commercializing their discoveries. The company’s scientific co-founder Jonathan Kurtis presented details of its novel malaria vaccine and treatment approach to scientists at the PATH Malaria’s annual retreat in Washington, DC.
Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, the company’s 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.”
Targets 3 Events
The unique anti-malaria vaccine targets three critical ‘blood stage’ events: entry into the red blood cell (via recently discovered PfXXX), intracellular development (via PfGARP), and escape of parasites from the red blood cells (via PfSEA-1). By targeting each of the three events in the parasite’s blood stage lifecycle, this unique approach is expected to result in a highly effective and novel malaria vaccine. Ocean Biomedical is also working to develop the PfGARP component as a therapeutic target for a whole new class of anti-malarial drugs.
“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 far too many of those who survive. I join the World Health Organization 2023 in saying, it is time for ZERO Malaria,” said Jerome Ringo, a director of Ocean Biomedical and goodwill ambassador to the Pan-African Parliament.
(Source: Ocean Biomedical, Inc.)
Dr. Kurtis presented a compelling case to PATH that the blood stage of the malarial cycle – a phase that has received scant attention and funding during the two-decade push to find a vaccine for malaria – is the most promising target for a maximally effective vaccine.
He also presented new data on both the biologic role of PfGARP within the parasite as well as results from efforts to discover small molecule drugs which target PfGARP. He detailed groundbreaking data demonstrating that PfGARP is critical for regulating parasite density and thus results in increased reproductive fitness of the parasite.
“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,” said Elizabeth Ng, the company’s CEO.
Small Molecule Drugs
In addition, Dr. Kurtis shared data on a family of small molecule drugs that are highly specific for PfGARP binding, are non-toxic in multiple in vitro and in vivo systems, have excellent pharmacokinetic properties, and rapidly kill P. falciparum parasites in animal models. This discovery has allowed Ocean Biomedical to begin simultaneously pursuing the development of a novel malaria vaccine and novel malaria therapeutics.
“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,” said Suren Ajjarapu, a director of the company.
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