News Releases

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle BioMed team up on malaria clinical trials

Studies to test drugs that may be useful for malaria treatment and prevention
Photo courtesy CDC Public Health Image Library

SEATTLE – Sept. 9 2014 – Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Vaccine Trials Unit (a program of Fred Hutch) have begun a collaboration with Seattle BioMed  and its Malaria Clinical Trials Center (MCTC) for upcoming malaria clinical research studies of experimental drugs that may prevent and/or treat malaria, which include a malaria challenge. As part of these studies, malaria will be delivered to participants by the bites of five infected mosquitos.

The model of “challenging” humans in malaria trials is a well-established method that has been the mainstay of malaria vaccine and drug evaluation for decades. The type of malaria that volunteers are challenged with is a laboratory-raised strain that is easy to diagnose and treat because it is responsive to conventional malaria drugs. Though the challenge method is established, facilities that can contain malaria-infected mosquitoes for this purpose are few.  In fact, Seattle BioMed’s MCTC is one of only four centers in the world that can test new malaria treatments and vaccines in humans by the malaria human challenge model. 

Given their complementary capabilities, the MCTC and VTU are natural partners to conduct these experimental studies. One upcoming study will be the first in a series of tests for a drug that may one day be useful for malaria prevention and treatment. For this first study, some screening and the majority of clinic visits will be conducted at the Vaccine Trials Unit, while a few other visits, including the malaria challenge, will occur at the MCTC.

“Malaria is a complex disease that can take on many different forms with devastating effects for millions of people around the world,” said Dr. Jim Kublin, study lead and researcher in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutch and medical director of the MCTC at Seattle BioMed. “This is a great opportunity for these two world-class, Seattle-based institutions to work together against this wily parasite.”

“At Seattle BioMed we envision a world free from the threat of infectious diseases,” said Alan Aderem, Ph.D., president of Seattle BioMed.  “This partnership with Fred Hutch to test malaria and vaccine and drug candidates is essential to our purpose.”

Malaria is the world’s most important tropical parasitic disease and is transmitted through the bite of female mosquitoes. There are four species of the parasite that cause malaria in humans. One of these, Plasmodium falciparum, causes the majority of infections and can lead to death if left untreated. According to the latest estimates, there were approximately 207 million cases of malaria infections in 2012 that led to an estimated 627,000 deaths worldwide.

For additional information regarding malaria clinical research trials visit: or call 206 -256-7101.

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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first and largest cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Private contributions are essential for enabling Fred Hutch scientists to explore novel research opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more information visit or follow Fred Hutch on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Seattle BioMed is the largest independent, non-profit organization in the U.S. focused solely on infectious disease research. Our research is the foundation for new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics that benefit those who need our help most: the 14 million who will otherwise die each year from infectious diseases, including malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.

Founded in 1976, Seattle BioMed has more than 230 staff members. By partnering with key collaborators around the globe, we strive to make discoveries that will save lives sooner. For more information, visit

Fred Hutch Media Contact
Michael Nank

Seattle BioMed Media Contact
Edward Jenkins