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Italy to Be First Beneficiary of EU Malaria Fund: Siena-Based Achilles Vaccines srl to Receive Financing to Fight Malaria and COVID-19

The EU Malaria Fund (EUMF) yesterday presented its first investment into Achilles Vaccines srl at the premises of Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Italy. The investment supports development of a novel Malaria vaccine on its versatile technology platform transforming bacteria, natural carriers of molecules harmful to human health, into an efficient delivery system of bio antigenic molecules to produce low-cost, safe and self-adjuvanting fit-for-purpose vaccines. The EUMF funding, with support from Fondazione TLS, will also be used to advance Achilles’ project to develop a novel human monoclonal antibody against COVID-19.

The first recipient of EUMF funding, Achilles, is a Siena-based biotech company specialising in research on malaria, antimicrobial resistance and, lately, COVID-19. “Achilles Vaccines is proud to contribute to the search for vaccines to eliminate malaria, a disease that faded into the background in these dramatic months, but which still claims significantly more victims than COVID-19 does, especially among children. Thanks to the guidance of Dr Rappuoli, we escape the challenge of finding a therapeutic and prophylactic drug with our monoclonal antibody, that finally makes the pandemic in which we find ourselves manageable”, said Riccardo Baccheschi, President and CEO of Achilles.

Holm Keller, Managing Director of EUMF and Chairman of kENUP Foundation said: “The EU Malaria Fund has high hopes, that the investment at the heart of the Siena vaccine hub in Italy will help to accelerate the eradication of Malaria. I am delighted that in these trying times, innovative Italian companies, like Achilles, will play a role in developing solutions against COVID-19".

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are investing €111 million into the fund. “Vaccines are important for disease prevention,” said Ambroise Fayolle, EIB Vice President in charge of innovation. “But often they also generate lower revenues than drugs and other health care services and are thus less attractive for private investors. This is why initiatives like the EU Malaria Fund are so important. We are glad to see the first investment of this Fund materialise so quickly and hope that it will allow AchilleS to progress in this important field of research.”

“We are very proud to be the first Italian foundation to invest in the EU Malaria Fund. With a 1 million euros amount, the Fondazione MPS is pursuing two main goals in a long-term vision: supporting scientific research for those diseases that have a big impact on public health and attracting financial resources with long-term benefits for the province of Siena. – said Carlo Rossi, Chairman of Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena, “We also appreciate that the EU Malaria Fund will support the COVID-19 research, as it represents, at the moment, the most important worldwide sanitary challenge that requires huge common efforts”.

The EIB and WHO support the development of the EU Malaria Fund. “Together with WHO’s technical expertise we are confident of accelerating the development of new and innovative tools. The first investment of the EU Malaria Fund in Achilles will meaningfully advance the renewed efforts in our fight against Malaria” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the World Health Organisation’s Global Malaria Programme.

The EUMF is a public-private partnership between the European Union, international organisations, corporations, and organized civic society, providing a novel funding instrument to address market failures in infectious diseases with significant relevance to public health globally. Further information can be found at www.controlMalaria.eu .

The video of the event can be found at https://www.controlmalaria.eu/news

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