var2CSA DBL3-X

Pregnancy Associated Malaria (PAM) component var2CSA DBL3-X

Pregnancy associated malaria occurs due to the expression of specific antigens which allow the parasite to attach to cells of the placenta. These antigens are obvious vaccine targets provided the following criteria are met:

  • The gene encoding the antigen is specifically transcribed in Chondroitin Sulfate A (CSA) binding parasite isolates or infected placenta. 
  • The protein binds to CSA. 
  • The protein shows some degree of conservation over a range of isolates.
  • Gene knock-out disrupts ability to bind to CSA.
  • Gender specific nature of immune response.
  • The antigen is expressed on the surface of infected erythrocytes from infected placentas.


This proposal and the proposal for var2CSA were a direct result of the European Malaria Vaccine Initiaitve (EMVI) now European Vaccine Initiative international meeting: Vaccines against PAM. The full report was published in Trends in Parasitology, May 2004 20(5): 201-4.

Full background information can be found in the proposal submitted in response to an EMVI call in 2003. The proposal was recommended by the independent Scientific Advisory Committee and subsequently approved by the Board.

Product Development

In 2005, a contract was signed with Institut Pasteur, Paris for the study programme: Process development, Good Manufacturing Practice production and clinical phase I clinical trial of a malaria vaccine based on the var2CSA DBL2/3-X Plasmodium falciparum protein.

Two papers have been published in:
Malaria Journal 2008: 7:170 and
International Journal for Parasitology 37 (2007) 273-283


Malaria Journal 2008: 7:170
International Journal for Parasitology 37 (2007) 273-283
PLoS Pathogens. 2006 Nov;2(11):e124
Trends in Parasitology. 2004 May;20(5):201-204