CMP staff – University of Copenhagen

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Ali Salanti

Ali Salanti


Interests and activities

Malaria and molecular biology have always been my passion and I have focused my interest on exploring the molecular mechanisms behind parasite sequestration in the human placenta with the long term perspective of aiding malaria sick women with a prophylactic or therapeutic compound. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation we identified the antigen, named VAR2CSA, responsible for malaria parasite adhesion in the placenta and we are now focusing our efforts on making this antigen into a functional vaccine. I have managed to recruit and maintain highly skilled research group and we have over the last years defined and optimized the VAR2CSA vaccine and are now transferring processes and antigens for clinical development. Besides the clinical development I and my team are involved in a range of project involving malaria pathogenesis and immunology, hereamong:

- Nanobody technology to characterize important malaria epitopes

- Novel Peptidechip technologies to define targets of protective malaria immunity

- Virus like particle delivery (HPV) of malaria vaccines and dual targeting of malaria and HPV in African women

- Cancer drug development

- Structural understanding of PfEMP1 mediated host pathogen interactions

- Capacity building in Africa

- Placental Perfusion

For further information about our ongoing VAR2CSA vaccine development, please see this movie which was shown on national TV 2011

Major recent funding

Eurostars. Adjvuant testing. Size/Duration: 150.000 Euro 2012-2014

Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation (HFT).Development and preclinical safety Assessment of a placental malaria vaccine. Size/Duration: 2.000.000 Euro 2011-2014

Gates Foundation. Grand Challenges Explorations Grant Program (GCE). Combinatorial HPV and malaria vaccine development. Size/Duration: 100.000 Euro, 2 years (2010-2012)

Danish Technical University: Proof of principle foundation. Optimisation and production of a VAR2CSA-based malaria vaccine. Size/Duration: 150.000 Euro 2010-2012

Novo Nordisk A/S PreSeed Grant. PregMalVac. Size/Duration: 50.000 Euro 2010-2011

STREP EU FP6. The Tetrahymena system as an innovative approach to malaria antigen expression (Project acronym: CILMALVAC). Size/Duration: 250.000 Euro, 2 years (2007-2010)

Danish Technical University: Proof of principle foundation. Preclinical vaccine development. Size/Duration: 150.000 Euro 2008-2010

Gates Foundation. PMI2. Development of immunogens that elicit functional antibodies against placental parasites, and transition of these for development as a vaccine to prevent malaria and improve pregnancy outcomes. Size/Duration: 740.000 Euro, 3 years (2007-2010)

EU FP7. PreMalStruct. Solve the three-dimensional structure of different CSA-binding DBL domains within var1 and var2CSA. Size/Duration: 330.000 Euro, 3 years (2007-2010)

EU FP7. StopPam. To determine the molecular characteristics of the parasites causing the most harmful infections in women during pregnancy. Size/Duration: 420.000 Euro, 3 years (2007-2010)

FSS – Forskningsrådet. Udvikling og optimering af vaccine mod graviditets associeret malaria. Size/Duration: 1.9 million DKR, 3 years (2005-2007)

Gates Foundation. PMI1 Identification of key antigens involved in placental malaria. Size/Duration: 150.000 Euro, 1½ years (2006-2007)

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