Malaria Programme: Blood-Stage Vaccines

The research undertaken in the Draper group focuses on the development of novel and improved approaches to blood-stage malaria vaccine design, as well as aiming to better understand mechanisms of vaccine-induced immunity to blood-stage malaria infection. More recently, the group is also working on the isolation of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from vaccinated volunteers in clinical trials for both malaria and Ebola, seeking to understand the human antibody response to key antigens and to further develop these for prophylactic or therapeutic human delivery. In parallel, we have a number of projects funded by industrial partners, working towards the development of new vaccine adjuvants, as well therapeutic mAbs and proteins for other disease conditions.

Draper Group Members

Simon Draper, Professor, Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow & Jenner Investigator
Fairooza Alam, Preclinical Research Assistant – Antibody Production
Rebecca Ashfield, Senior Project Manager  GMP 
Martino Bardelli, Postdoctoral Virologist
Jordan Barrett, Clinical Trials Research Assistant
Jee-Sun Cho, Postdoctoral Immunologist
Hannah Davies, Preclinical Research Assistant – Protein Vaccines
Jed de Ruiter-Swain, Biochemistry Part II Student
Francesca Donnellan, MRC iCASE DPhil Student
Giacomo GoriniPostdoctoral Antibody Immunologist
Susanne Hodgson, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer
Lloyd King, Postdoctoral Preclinical Immunologist
Amelia Lias, Preclinical Research Assistant - Parasitology & Virology
Kirsty McHugh, Postdoctoral Scientist
Angela Minassian, Honorary Consultant & Chief Investigator  Clinical Trials Programme
Carolyn NielsenSir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow  Clinical Immunology
Fay Nugent, Clinical Project Manager
David Pulido-Gomez, Postdoctoral Research Scientist - Protein and Antibody Production
Doris Quinkert, Postdoctoral Parasitologist
Robert Ragotte, Rhodes Scholar & Wellcome Trust IITM DPhil Student
Tom Rawlinson, Clinical Research Fellow
Stephannie Salvador, PA/Group Admin Officer
Sarah Silk, Clinical Trials Immunologist
Kate Skinner, Project Manager  Preclinical and GMP
Jonathan Suurbaar, Master’s Student – Summer Intern (NDM/AfOx Scheme)
Yrene Themistocleous, Clinical Research Fellow
Lawrence Wang, NIH-OxCam Scholar & DPhil Student
Barney Williams, MRC DPhil Student
The group also works in close collaboration with the Transmission-Blocking Malaria Vaccine programme, led by Prof Sumi Biswas.


Preclinical Research

This work has a number of important goals:

1. Improving antibody induction by human-compatible subunit vaccine platforms – including viral vectored, protein-in-adjuvant and virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine delivery systems.

2. Improving our understanding of antibody and B cell induction by subunit vaccine delivery platforms.

3. Antigen-screening to define optimal target combinations that neutralise blood-stage malaria parasites, and the development of new candidate vaccines capable of delivering these targets.

4. Improving our understanding of how vaccine-induced immune effector mechanisms can control or eliminate blood-stage malaria parasites.

5. Development of new mAbs against candidate antigens which are progressed to functional studies, as well as structural characterisation in collaboration with Prof Matt Higgins at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford.


Clinical Trials

Alongside basic research, there is a strong translational emphasis, with the most promising new approaches and/or candidate vaccines feeding into the Blood-Stage Clinical Trials Programme. Candidate vaccines are manufactured to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) at the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility, with clinical trials subsequently being led from the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine. These include Phase Ia trials to assess vaccine safety and immunogenicity, as well as Phase IIa controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) trials to assess efficacy.

The latest Draper group trials are recruiting here: VAC069 and VAC071.

The Draper group has so far undertaken eight Phase I/IIa clinical trials in Oxford. Originally, we developed simian adenovirus (ChAd63) and MVA viral vectored vaccines targeting two major candidate antigens from the human malaria parasite P. falciparum (PfMSP1 and PfAMA1), having demonstrated strong T cell and antibody immunogenicity in preclinical models. We translated these findings into Phase I/IIa clinical vaccine trials funded by the UK MRC and EMVDA. The aims of this work were to assess the safety, immunogenicity and protective efficacy of these new vaccines in human volunteers.

We subsequently sought to assess whether improved antibody responses could be achieved in healthy adult volunteers immunised with the ChAd63 and MVA vectors encoding PfAMA1, when these were further combined with a protein AMA1 vaccine formulated with Alhydrogel ± CpG adjuvant.

We subsequently tested the safety and immunogenicity of new ChAd63 and MVA candidate vaccines encoding the PvDBP_RII antigen from P. vivax malaria and the PfRH5 antigen from P. falciparum. These trials were supported by funding from the UK MRC and the European Commission FP7 MultiMalVax programme, respectively. Both of these trials saw these antigens enter human testing for the first time.

In parallel, we  sought to establish a blood-stage controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) model to allow for proof-of-concept early-phase efficacy testing of new vaccines whereby impact of the vaccine on parasite multiplication rate (PMR) is the primary endpoint.

Currently a PfRH5 protein vaccine called RH5.1 has undergone cGMP manufacture and entered a Phase I/IIa trial called VAC063. This was initiated in 2016 delivering the RH5.1 protein in AS01B adjuvant. This vaccine will be assessed for efficacy in late 2017 using the blood-stage CHMI model.

We are also currently establishing CHMI with P. vivax malaria, with funding support from the European Commission H2020 MultiViVax programme. These studies will initiate in early 2018.

The CHMI studies provide a valuable opportunity to better understand how vaccine-induced responses can protect against malaria infection in humans, and also how exposure to the parasite can modulate immunity. We have a particular interest in B cells and assessment of the human antibody repertoire induced through vaccination and following malaria exposure.


The blood-stage malaria clinical trials undertaken to-date include:


Selected Recent Publications

For a full list of publications click here.


Alanine DGW, Quinkert D, Kumarasingha R, Mehmood S, Donnellan FR, Minkah NK, Dadonaite B, Diouf A, Galaway F, Silk SE, Jamwal A, Marshall JM, Miura K, Foquet L, Elias SC, Labbé GM, Douglas AD, Jin J, Payne RO, Illingworth JJ, Pattinson DJ, Pulido D, Williams BG, de Jongh WA, Wright GJ, Kappe SHI, Robinson CV, Long CA, Crabb BS, Gilson PR, Higgins MK, Draper SJ. 2019. Human Antibodies that Slow Erythrocyte Invasion Potentiate Malaria-Neutralizing Antibodies. Cell, ePub. [Pubmed]

Rawlinson TA, Barber NM, Mohring F, Cho JS, Kosaisavee V, Gérard SF, Alanine DGW, Labbé GM, Elias SC, Silk SE, Quinkert D, Jin J, Marshall JM, Payne RO, Minassian AM, Russell B, Rénia L, Nosten FH, Moon RW, Higgins MK, Draper SJ. 2019. Structural basis for inhibition of Plasmodium vivax invasion by a broadly neutralizing vaccine-induced human antibody. Nat Microbiol, ePub. [Pubmed]

Douglas AD, Baldeviano GC, Jin J, Miura K, Diouf A, Zenonos ZA, Ventocilla JA, Silk SE, Marshall JM, Alanine DGW, Wang C, Edwards NJ, Leiva KP, Gomez-Puerta LA, Lucas CM, Wright GJ, Long CA, Royal JM, Draper SJ. 2019. A defined mechanistic correlate of protection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in non-human primates. Nat Commun, 10, pp. 1953. [Pubmed]

Rijal P, Elias SC, Machado SR, Xiao J, Schimanski L, O'Dowd V, Baker T, Barry E, Mendelsohn SC, Cherry CJ, Jin J, Labbé GM, Donnellan FR, Rampling T, Dowall S, Rayner E, Findlay-Wilson S, Carroll M, Guo J, Xu XN, Huang KA, Takada A, Burgess G, McMillan D, Popplewell A, Lightwood DJ, Draper SJ, Townsend AR. 2019. Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibodies for Ebola Virus Infection Derived from Vaccinated Humans. Cell Rep, 27, pp. 172-186. [Pubmed]

Jin J, Tarrant RD, Bolam EJ, Angell-Manning P, Soegaard M, Pattinson DJ, Dulal P, Silk SE, Marshall JM, Dabbs RA, Nugent FL, Barrett JR, Hjerrild KA, Poulsen L, Jørgensen T, Brenner T, Baleanu IN, Parracho HM, Tahiri-Alaoui A, Whale G, Moyle S, Payne RO, Minassian AM, Higgins MK, Detmers FJ, Lawrie AM, Douglas AD, Smith R, de Jongh WA, Berrie E, Ashfield R, Draper SJ. 2018. Production, quality control, stability, and potency of cGMP-produced Plasmodium falciparum RH5.1 protein vaccine expressed in Drosophila S2 cells. NPJ Vaccines, 3, pp. 32. [Pubmed]

Draper SJ, Sack BK, King CR, Nielsen CM, Rayner JC, Higgins MK, Long CA, Seder RA. 2018. Malaria Vaccines: Recent Advances and New Horizons. Cell Host Microbe, 24, pp. 43-56. [Pubmed]

Draper SJ, Higgins MK. 2018. A new site of attack for a malaria vaccine. Nat Med, 24, pp. 382. [Pubmed]

Payne RO, Silk SE, Elias SC, Miura K, Diouf A, Galaway F, de Graaf H, Brendish NJ, Poulton ID, Griffiths OJ, Edwards NJ, Jin J, Labbé GM, Alanine DG, Siani L, Di Marco S, Roberts R, Green N, Berrie E, Ishizuka AS, Nielsen CM, Bardelli M, Partey FD, Ofori MF, Barfod L, Wambua J, Murungi LM, Osier FH, Biswas S, McCarthy JS, Minassian AM, Ashfield R, Viebig NK, Nugent FL, Douglas AD, Vekemans J, Wright GJ, Faust SN, Hill AV, Long CA, Lawrie AM, Draper SJ. 2017. Human vaccination against RH5 induces neutralizing antimalarial antibodies that inhibit RH5 invasion complex interactions. JCI Insight, 2, pp. 96381. [Pubmed]

Payne RO, Silk SE, Elias SC, Milne KH, Rawlinson TA, Llewellyn D, Shakri AR, Jin J, Labbé GM, Edwards NJ, Poulton ID, Roberts R, Farid R, Jørgensen T, Alanine DG, de Cassan SC, Higgins MK, Otto TD, McCarthy JS, de Jongh WA, Nicosia A, Moyle S, Hill AV, Berrie E, Chitnis CE, Lawrie AM, Draper SJ. 2017. Human vaccination against Plasmodium vivax Duffy-binding protein induces strain-transcending antibodies. JCI Insight, 2, pp. 93683. [Pubmed]

Campeotto I, Goldenzweig A, Davey J, Barfod L, Marshall JM, Silk SE, Wright KE, Draper SJ, Higgins MK, Fleishman SJ. 2017. One-step design of a stable variant of the malaria invasion protein RH5 for use as a vaccine immunogen. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 114, pp. 998. [Pubmed]

Payne ROGriffin PMMcCarthy JSDraper SJ. 2016. Plasmodium vivax Controlled Human Malaria Infection - Progress and Prospects. Trends Parasitol33, pp. 141. [Pubmed]

Hodgson SH, Llewellyn D, Silk SE, Milne KH, Elias SC, Miura K, Kamuyu G, Juma EA, Magiri C, Muia A, Jin J, Spencer AJ, Longley RJ, Mercier T, Decosterd L, Long CA, Osier FH, Hoffman SL, Ogutu B, Hill AV, Marsh K, Draper SJ. 2016. Changes in Serological Immunology Measures in UK and Kenyan Adults Post-controlled Human Malaria Infection. Front Microbiol, 7, pp. 1604. [Pubmed]

Payne RO, Milne KH, Elias SC, Edwards NJ, Douglas AD, Brown RE, Silk SE, Biswas S, Miura K, Roberts R, Rampling TW, Venkatraman N, Hodgson SH, Labbé GM, Halstead FD, Poulton ID, Nugent FL, de Graaf H, Sukhtankar P, Williams NC, Ockenhouse CF, Kathcart AK, Qabar AN, Waters NC, Soisson LA, Birkett AJ, Cooke GS, Faust SN, Woods C, Ivinson K, McCarthy JS, Diggs CL, Vekemans J, Long CA, Hill AV, Lawrie AM, Dutta S, Draper SJ. 2016. Demonstration of the Blood-Stage Controlled Human Malaria Infection Model to Assess Efficacy of the Plasmodium falciparum AMA1 Vaccine FMP2.1/AS01. J Infect Dis, 213, pp. 1743-51. [Pubmed]

Douglas AD, Baldeviano GC, Lucas CM, Lugo-Roman LA, Crosnier C, Bartholdson SJ, Diouf A, Miura K, Lambert LE, Ventocilla JA, Leiva KP, Milne KH, Illingworth JJ, Spencer AJ, Hjerrild KA, Alanine DG, Turner AV, Moorhead JT, Edgel KA, Wu Y, Long CA, Wright GJ, Lescano AG, Draper SJ. 2015. A PfRH5-Based Vaccine Is Efficacious against Heterologous Strain Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum Infection in Aotus Monkeys. Cell Host Microbe, 17 (1), pp. 130-139. [Pubmed

Wright KE, Hjerrild KA, Bartlett J, Douglas AD, Jin J, Brown RE, Illingworth JJ, Ashfield R, Clemmensen SB, de Jongh WA, Draper SJ, Higgins MK. 2014. Structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies. Nature, 515 (7527), pp. 427-430. [Pubmed]