Sporobot to Automate Production of Malaria Vaccine

Sanaria is working with Harvard's Biorobotics Lab to automate a vaccine that proved 100 percent protective against malaria.

Sanaria, a Maryland-based biotechnology firm, recently developed the PfSPZ Vaccine that was 100 percent effective against malaria in clinical trials.

Malaria causes illness in over 200 million people worldwide and 600,000 deaths each year. Before the PfSPZ Vaccine, there was no vaccine that fully protected against the malaria parasite.

The company is now turning to Indiegogo to crowdfund a robot, called Sporobot, that will manufacture the vaccine on a large scale.

Sporobot, being built in conjunction with Harvard’s Biorobotics Laboratory, automates a key component of the manufacturing process and will be able to produce the vaccine at 20-30 times its current efficiency.

According to the Sporobot Indiegogo page, “Sanaria’s PfSPZ Vaccine is made from living, weakened malaria parasites (called sporozoites) that trigger protective immunity without causing disease. The sporozoites are produced in mosquitoes, and become concentrated in the insects’ salivary glands.

“To make the vaccine, Sanaria’s mosquito dissectors remove the heads of mosquitoes and extract their salivary glands. Currently, we do this by hand dissection, but to produce the quantities of vaccine needed to treat hundreds of millions of people as quickly and as inexpensively as possible, we want to automate this process. Our plan is to develop a robot we call SporoBot and use it in performing this crucial step in vaccine production. As a result, we will increase manufacturing efficiency and decrease costs.”

Sanaria hopes to raise $250,000 (£147,000) to build a small-scale prototype of SporoBot. As of press time, $13,102 had been raised.

“This project took a lot of creativity,” Dr Robert Howe, professor of engineering at the Harvard Biorobotics Laboratory, tells the International Business Times. “There aren’t a lot of references out there about how to design mosquito dissection robots.

[Source:] International Business Times

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