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Reticulocyte-binding protein homologue 5 (RH5), a leading blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria vaccine target, interacts with cysteine-rich protective antigen (CyRPA) and RH5-interacting protein (RIPR) to form an essential heterotrimeric "RCR-complex". We investigate whether RCR-complex vaccination can improve upon RH5 alone. Using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) we show that parasite growth-inhibitory epitopes on each antigen are surface-exposed on the RCR-complex and that mAb pairs targeting different antigens can function additively or synergistically. However, immunisation of female rats with the RCR-complex fails to outperform RH5 alone due to immuno-dominance of RIPR coupled with inferior potency of anti-RIPR polyclonal IgG. We identify that all growth-inhibitory antibody epitopes of RIPR cluster within the C-terminal EGF-like domains and that a fusion of these domains to CyRPA, called "R78C", combined with RH5, improves the level of in vitro parasite growth inhibition compared to RH5 alone. These preclinical data justify the advancement of the RH5.1 + R78C/Matrix-M™ vaccine candidate to Phase 1 clinical trial.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Malaria Vaccines, Animals, Plasmodium falciparum, Protozoan Proteins, Female, Malaria, Falciparum, Antigens, Protozoan, Rats, Antibodies, Protozoan, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humans, Epitopes, Carrier Proteins