GUANGZHOU, China — At a laboratory in a remote mountain valley, monkeys are inoculated with a powerful antibody that is later used to test vaccines for a new malaria-resistant virus.
Just four of the latest batches of the experimental vaccine are already in stock. All of the animals have to stay in quarantine for about a month. But the candidate malaria vaccine is still very much in search of its first perfect match.
If the search goes smoothly, the same process will be repeated for other likely treatment targets like tuberculosis. Then, the hunt will shift to people.
It’s a highly unusual scientific feat: developing an effective vaccine based on an existing compound but without any reference to the other obvious design.
Such an untested project is now considered the latest frontier in global health research, part of a larger effort to find a vaccine that will help eliminate or greatly reduce deadly diseases like cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
“In a long run, what really counts is not so much how quickly you can increase your share of the market, but are there other therapies that your approach has an impact on that create a value proposition,” said Wayne Small, director of global partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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