A biotechnology company has developed the first 100% effective malaria vaccine and is now hoping to crowdfund the production of a robot capable of efficiently manufacturing it.
Every year, malaria causes illness in over 200 million people worldwide, resulting in 600,000 deaths. Before PfSPZ, there was no vaccine capable of fully protecting against the malaria parasite.
"This was a concept that most people thought was impossible," said Dr Kim Lee Sim, executive vice president of process development and manufacturing at Sanaria. "People said: 'This is a crazy idea.'"
The method developed involves extracting malaria parasites dosed with radiation from the saliva glands of mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the production of the vaccine is hindered by the fact that the process is time consuming and requires a production line of highly trained scientists.
Sanaria now wants to build a robot, referred to as SporoBot, in conjunction with the Harvard Biorobotics Laboratory in order to manufacture the vaccine on a large scale.
"This project took a lot of creativity," said Dr Robert Howe, professor of engineering at the Harvard Biorobotics Laboratory. "There aren't a lot of references out there about how to design mosquito dissection robots.
"At this point we've gone through proof of concept, we've developed capabilities no one has ever seen before."
Through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo the firm hopes to raise $250,000 (£147,000) to build a small-scale prototype of SporoBot. Since launching yesterday, over $10,000 has already been raised.
"With SporoBot we can really scale up to deliver this to everyone who needs it," said Sim.
"The parts of SporoBot work and now we have to put them together. This campaign is designed to get us to the prototype for producing the vaccine for the world."