Ali Salanti

Ali Salanti


Member of:

  • VAR2CSA team

Malaria and molecular biology have always been my passion and I focus my interest on exploring the molecular mechanisms behind parasite sequestration in the human placenta with the long-term perspective of aiding malaria sick women with a prophylactic or therapeutic compound. My entire research career is centered around the possibility of translating my research into medical products.  Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation we identified the antigen, named VAR2CSA, responsible for malaria parasite adhesion and have focused my efforts on making this antigen into a functional vaccine. I have managed to recruit and maintain highly skilled research group and together we have finalized pre-clinical development, GMP manufacturing and two clinical trials in women with VAR2CSA as malaria vaccine. Besides the clinical development, my team and I are involved in a range of project involving malaria pathogenesis and immunology. Recently, in collaboration with Dr. Daugaard, we made the seminal discovery that the CSA found in placenta, mediating parasite adhesion, is also expressed on cancer cells, but no other places in the human body. Our accumulated data demonstrate that VAR2CSA binds all tested cancer cell lines and cancer cell tissues. Drug conjugates based on recombinant VAR2CSA show effective in advanced animal models against a wide range of xenografted tumors and the novel treatment holds the promise to become a novel type of cancer type in cancers where there are currently no treatment. For this research, I have been awarded the very prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator grant and I am pursuing to develop this towards human clinical testing, and I was recently awarded an ERC PoC grant to pursue translational aspects of my ERC project. Lastly, I have been heading a team effort into developing novel vaccine technologies. This endeavor has resulted in a ground-breaking novel vaccine technology that can deliver virtually any recombinant vaccine antigen on a virus like particle in a dense and highly ordered manner. Both the cancer technology and the VLP technology are spun out of the university as separate companies. Over the last few years I have established 4 companies engaged in clinical development. At UCPH I am heading a lab with 40 people working with me with a high number of post doc employees, and in the past I have successfully taken more than 15 students through a PhD program. I have published 100 publications in these areas of research and submitted 8 patent applications, whereas three patent families has been issued.


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