The last two decades saw a dramatic reduction in malaria incidence rates, but this decrease has been stalling recently, indicating control measures are starting to fail. An effective vaccine, particularly one with a marked effect on disease transmission, would undoubtedly be an invaluable tool for efforts to control and eliminate malaria. RTS,S/AS01, the most advanced malaria vaccine to date, targets the parasite before it invades the liver and has the potential to prevent malaria disease as well as transmission by preventing blood stage infection and therefore gametocytogenesis. Unfortunately efficacy in a phase III clinical trial was limited and it is widely believed that a malaria vaccine needed to contain multiple antigens from different life-cycle stages to have a realistic chance of success. A recent study in mice has shown that partially efficacious interventions targeting the pre-erythrocytic and the sexual lifecycle stage synergise in eliminating malaria from a population over multiple generations. Hence, the combination of RTS,S/AS01 with a transmission blocking vaccine (TBV) is highly appealing as a pragmatic and powerful way to increase vaccine efficacy. Here we demonstrate that combining Pfs25-IMX313, one of the TBV candidates currently in clinical development, with RTS,S/AS01 readily induces a functional immune response against both antigens in outbred CD1 mice. Formulation of Pfs25-IMX313 in AS01 significantly increased antibody titres when compared to formulation in Alhydrogel, resulting in improved transmission reducing activity in standard membrane feeding assays (SMFA). Upon co-formulation of Pfs25-IMX313 with RTS,S/AS01, the immunogenicity of both vaccines was maintained, and functional assessment of the induced antibody response by SMFA and inhibition of sporozoite invasion assay (ISI) showed no reduction in biological activity against parasites of both lifecycle stages. Should this findings be translatable to human vaccination this could greatly aid efforts to eliminate and eventually eradicate malaria.
malaria, pre-erythrocytic, synergy, transmission blocking, vaccine