Malaria vaccine trials in pregnant women: An imperative without precedent.
Pregnant women are highly susceptible to Plasmodium falciparum malaria, leading to substantial maternal, perinatal, and infant mortality. While malaria vaccine development has made significant progress in recent years, no trials of malaria vaccines have ever been conducted in pregnant women. In December 2016, an expert meeting was convened at NIAID, NIH, in Rockville, Maryland to deliberate on the rationale and design of malaria vaccine trials in pregnant women. The discussions highlighted the progress made over recent years in the field of maternal immunization for other infectious diseases, and the evolving regulatory and ethical environment, all of which support a new emphasis on testing malaria vaccines that offer direct benefits to pregnant women. Initial safety and immunogenicity studies of malaria vaccines will be conducted in non-pregnant adult volunteers. Subsequently, efficacy trials involving pregnant women will likely be conducted in malaria-endemic and often resource-poor environments where sufficiently high malaria incidence will allow vaccine activity to be measured. Such trials will need to meet all international standards to ensure the safety of mother and offspring, under oversight of appropriate ethical and regulatory bodies. The convened experts drafted a clinical development plan to test a malaria vaccine product during pregnancy, using as a case study PfSPZ Vaccine being developed by Sanaria Inc. that is currently in phase 2 testing. Following the expert recommendations, a pregnancy registry has been initiated in Ouelessebougou, Mali, to provide baseline information on maternal and fetal outcomes as a context for evaluating PfSPZ Vaccine safety in the future, and new regimens are being assessed that will be suitable for evaluation in pregnant women.
Healy, SA; Fried, M; Richie, T; Bok, K; Little, M; August, A; Riley, L; Swamy, GK; Wylie, BJ; Menendez, C; Muehlenbachs, A; Doumbo, O; Greenwood, B; Billingsley, PF; Hoffman, SL; Duffy, PE
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