Ready to put an end to a devastating disease, Maryland-based biotechnology company Sanaria launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to eliminate the threat of malaria. The company is aiming to raise $250k to develop of SporoBot, a robot that will dissect mosquito salivary glands and to accelerate vaccine development.
Malaria is a vector borne disease that is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. During the bite, it regurgitates parasitic protozoa Plasmodium falciparum. This is then embedded in the host’s liver until it matures and releases its progeny. It then destroys the host’s red cells and ultimately kills the host.
The company is currently in phase 1 of the clinical trials of its PfSPZ Vaccine that will fully protect against Malaria. This is the first malaria vaccine ever to show such efficacy and based on the results reported in Science magazine in 2013, the vaccine is being assessed in clinical trials in three U.S., Mali, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea and Germany this year.
The company’s PfSPZ vaccine is made from living, weakened Malaria parasites, called sporozoites, that trigger protective immunity without causing disease. The sporozoites are produced in mosquitoes, and become concentrated in the insects’ salivary glands. The process of removing sporozoites is currently being down by hand, which takes a very long time. With the help from the Sporobot, the time to create the vaccination will be cut in half.
Co-founder of Sanaria Dr. Stephen Hoffman stated, “The individual components of the robot work. Now we must determine how to successfully put them together to create the prototype of SporoBot, a robot to mass-produce the vaccine faster at a lower cost. This will allow us to provide the vaccine sooner and at less expense to the hundreds of millions of people who suffer from Malaria each year, are most in need of protection and can least afford health care.”
He then added, “This campaign is about working together with supporters of large and small means to make progress toward finally ending one of the world’s deadliest diseases,” Dr. Hoffman explain. “Crowdfunding provides an opportunity for everyone to participate in the development of a potentially game-changing technology to help those most in need.”
To integrate SporoBot into the vaccine manufacturing process, Sanaria needs to build a prototype that meets standards of efficiency an consistency, is operational under the guidelines of pharmaceutical manufacturing, is compatible with downstream processing, and is robust enough for continuous manufacturing.
Since its launch earlier this week, the campaign has raised $18,606 with a 164 backers. The company has until June 5th to reach the $250k goal.
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