Polymorphic parasite antigens are known targets of protective immunity to malaria, but this antigenic variation poses challenges to vaccine development. A synthetic MSP-1 Block 2 construct, based on all polymorphic variants found in natural Plasmodium falciparum isolates has been designed, combined with the relatively conserved Block 1 sequence of MSP-1 and expressed in E.coli. The MSP-1 Hybrid antigen has been produced with high yield by fed-batch fermentation and purified without the aid of affinity tags resulting in a pure and extremely thermostable antigen preparation. MSP-1 hybrid is immunogenic in experimental animals using adjuvants suitable for human use, eliciting antibodies against epitopes from all three Block 2 serotypes. Human serum antibodies from Africans naturally exposed to malaria reacted to the MSP-1 hybrid as strongly as, or better than the same serum reactivities to individual MSP-1 Block 2 antigens, and these antibody responses showed clear associations with reduced incidence of malaria episodes. The MSP-1 hybrid is designed to induce a protective antibody response to the highly polymorphic Block 2 region of MSP-1, enhancing the repertoire of MSP-1 Block 2 antibody responses found among immune and semi-immune individuals in malaria endemic areas. The target population for such a vaccine is young children and vulnerable adults, to accelerate the acquisition of a full range of malaria protective antibodies against this polymorphic parasite antigen.
Cowan, G. J. M., Creasey, A. M., Dhansarnsombut, K., Thomas, A. W., Remarque, E. J., & Cavanagh, D. R. (2011). A malaria vaccine based on the polymorphic block 2 region of MSP-1 that elicits a broad serotype-spanning immune response. PLoS ONE, 6(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0026616