Biotechnology company Sanaria, Rockville, plans to open a new malaria vaccine plant that was funded partially by a $29.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $3.5 million in federal small business grants

Sanaria is a biotechnology company exclusively dedicated to the production of a vaccine protective against malaria caused by the pathogen Plasmodium falciparum. Sanaria’s vaccine is based on an approach to immunization that has already proven highly protective in humans. The company plans to open a new malaria vaccine plant that was funded partially by a $29.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $3.5 million in federal small business grants.

Sanaria, which has been building the plant over the past six months, in 2006 began producing a malaria vaccine in conjunction with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. The vaccine is distinct because it was developed through the exposure of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite to radiation.

NIH earlier this year awarded Sanaria two grants that were allocated toward Phase I and II clinical trials. The Phase I grant will help the company find ways to preserve the vaccine. The Phase II grant will go toward developing different strains of the parasite that can help determine the vaccine's effectiveness.