Safety, toxicity and immunogenicity of a malaria vaccine based on the circumsporozoite protein (FMP013) with the adjuvant army liposome formulation containing QS21 (ALFQ).


Structural Vaccinology Laboratory, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, 503 Robert Grant Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Antibodies to Circumsporozoite protein (CSP) confer protection against controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Although CSP is highly immunogenic, it does not induce long lasting protection and efforts to improve CSP-specific immunological memory and duration of protection are underway. We have previously reported that the clinical grade CSP vaccine FMP013 was immunogenic and protective against malaria challenge in mice when combined with the Army Liposomal Formulation adjuvant containing immune modulators 3D-PHAD™ and QS21 (ALFQ). To move forward with clinical evaluation, we now report the safety, toxicity and immunogenicity of clinical grade FMP013 and ALFQ in Rhesus macaques. Three groups of Rhesus (n = 6) received half or full human dose of FMP013 + ALFQ on a 0-1-2 month schedule, which showed mild local site reactions with no hematologic derangements in red blood cell homeostasis, liver function or kidney function. Immunization induced a transient systemic inflammatory response, including elevated white blood cell counts, mild fever, and a few incidences of elevated creatine kinase, receding to normal range by day 7 post vaccination. Optimal immunogenicity in Rhesus was observed using a 1 mL ALFQ + 20 µg FMP013 dose. Doubling the FMP013 antigen dose to 40 µg had no effect while halving the ALFQ adjuvant dose to 0.5 mL lowered immunogenicity. Similar to data generated in mice, FMP013 + ALFQ induced serum antibodies that reacted to all regions of the CSP molecule and a Th1-biased cytokine response in Rhesus. Rhesus antibody response to FMP013 + ALFQ was found to be non-inferior to historical benchmarks including that of RTS,S + AS01 in humans. A four-dose GLP toxicity study in rabbits confirmed no local site reactions and transient systemic inflammation associated with ALFQ adjuvant administration. These safety and immunogenicity data support the clinical progression and testing of FMP013 + ALFQ in a CHMI trial in the near future.


ALFQ,Circumsporozoite protein,FMP013,Malaria,Rhesus,Vaccine,