MALARIA

  • NEED: Caused by parasites transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes, malaria puts nearly 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – at risk of disease. Malaria has flu-like symptoms, including fever, joint pain, headaches, frequent vomiting, convulsions and coma.

    DSCN1412Every year, malaria kills more than 600,000 people and infects more than 200 million. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is a source of poverty as it often leaves its victims unable to work, become educated or take care of their families. While there are drugs available to treat the disease, there is a need for a malaria vaccine.

  • FOCUS: Development of a vaccine to protect those living in malaria-prone regions would greatly decrease sickness and death in these areas and may be the only way to make a large impact on the disease in some countries.IDRI is a leading developer of adjuvants that stimulate the immune system. We have built a portfolio of proprietary adjuvants and are using our adjuvant technologies to empower the immune system to recognize and destroy malaria parasites. Data suggest that adjuvants will be an essential part of a successful malaria vaccine, and our adjuvants have been proven in preclinical models of malaria. We are working with collaborators to use our adjuvants as a component of a malaria vaccine.

CHAGAS DISEASE

  • NEED: Prevalent in Latin America, Chagas disease is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the parasite T. cruzi, which is most commonly transmitted through insects known as “kissing bugs.” The infection may trigger a chronic inflammatory disease in 30% of individuals. If left untreated, the disease usually impairs the heart and digestive system; it is a leading cause of heart disease in Latin America. In adults, the decline in health develops slowly, occurring 20-30 years after the initial infection.

    DSCN1858 - CopyChagas disease is found mainly in endemic areas of 21 Latin American countries. About 6-7 million people worldwide are estimated to be infected. In pregnancy, however, the disease can be devastating; congenital infection with T. cruzi can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death. Though the disease was once entirely confined primarily to Latin America, the disease has now spread to other continents and cases have been reported in the U.S.

    Because T. cruzi infection can persist in asymptomatic adults for many years, the parasite has contaminated the blood supply in many areas of Latin America. Therefore, blood screening is vital to prevent infectious through transfusion and organ transplantation.

  • FOCUS: IDRI is pursuing a multi-faceted approach to eliminating Chagas disease, including developing diagnostics that screen the blood supply for T. cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease, as well as diagnostic tests that effectively detect T. cruzi infection.

    In 2010, the U.S. FDA approved a test that utilizes IDRI technology to screen blood and organ donations for T. cruzi. This is one of only two FDA approved Chagas tests, and it is an important part of the screening procedures that help to maintain the safety of the blood supply. Our proprietary recombinant fusion protein is now being used in tests to diagnose Chagas Disease in the U.S. and Latin America. IDRI is developing new antigenic proteins to improve diagnosis.

AMEBIASIS

  • NEED: Entamoeba histolytica, (a biodefense category B pathogen) is a tiny microbe that takes a terrible toll. The single-celled parasite — an amoeba about one-tenth the size of a dust mite — causes amebiasis, a neglected enteric infectious disease that infects 50 million people worldwide and kills as many as 100,000 each year, with the heaviest burden on people living in the developing world.
  • FOCUS: With a $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health and in partnership with the William Petri Lab at the University of Virginia, IDRI scientists are developing an innovative vaccine adjuvant nanoformulation that facilitates the ability to induce effective cellular immunity and mucosal antibodies to protect against the diarrheal disease amebiasis. Conventional vaccine adjuvants such as oil-in-water emulsions or aluminum salts do not promote effective Th1-type cellular immune responses, which are critical for complex diseases lacking effective vaccines such as malaria, tuberculosis and amebiasis.