Fighting Malaria
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Our Approach

“Sumaya” means “malaria” in Bambara, a dialect spoken in Mali. Our scientific founder, the late Prof. Hermann Bujard, travelled to Africa for many years, searching for suitable targets for malaria vaccines. Experiencing the immense suffering caused by this deadly disease first-hand made him truly passionate about saving young children’s lifes. As research progressed, Sumaya Biotech was spun off from Heidelberg University in 2014.


Our lead product, SUM-101 (SumayaVac1), successfully completed a first-in-human clinical trial in 2019, demonstrating safety and immunogenicity. SUM-101 is an innovative malaria vaccine based on the recombinant, full-length merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1). SumayaVac1 is expected to target both the asymptomatic liver stages and the blood stages of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, by eliciting both a humoral and cellular immune response. A safety, immunogenicity and efficacy trial in Tanzania is about to be launched.


In 2021, Sumaya Biotech’s approach was validated by the EU Malaria Fund, who selected Sumaya Biotech as one of 8 companies to receive funding.


Dr. Ernst BoehnleinCEO and Co-Founder
Dr. Ernst BoehnleinCEO and Co-Founder

Ernst Boehnlein is co-founder and CEO of Suamya since inception. He studied biology at the Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg and graduated in 1986. He received his post-doctoral training at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. In 1989, he joined the Sandoz Research Institute in Vienna, Austria, as group leader. In 1993 he became Director at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals and transferred a gene therapy project to Palo Alto where he co-directed a Sandoz-sponsored joint research program with SyStemix, Inc. In 1997, he joined the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research as Executive Director in the Department of Arthritis and Bone Metabolism. In 2001, he moved back to Europe. Since then he held senior management positions in start-up biotech companies in Düsseldorf, Göttingen and Munich. From 2008 until 2022, he was Managing Director at TET Systems in Heidelberg.

Dr. Andrea AschenbrennerCOO
Dr. Andrea AschenbrennerCOO

Andrea Aschenbrenner studied pharmaceutics at the University of Munich. She received her PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry from University of Würzburg in 1998 and an MSc in Drug Regulatory Affairs from the University of Bonn in 2009. Andrea held various positions of increasing responsibility at different pharmaceutical and biotech companies in Germany and Ireland. During this time, she gained wide experience from early research through to marketed products, with an emphasis on Project/Program Management and Business Development roles. She joined Sumaya Biotech in January 2022.

Dr. Richard Thomson LuqueScientific Director
Dr. Richard Thomson LuqueScientific Director

Richard Thomson Luque studied medicine at the University of Málaga. After graduating in 2001, he got an MSc in Tropical Medicine and International Health by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). He specialized as a clinical analyst at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital in Badalona (Barcelona) and obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biomedicine by the Unicersity Complutense of Madrid (UCM). With a GSK OpenLab fellowship he joined ISGLOBAL in Barcelona as medical research fellow and worked at the Tropical Medicine Foundation in Manaus, Brazil. In 2014 he joined the University of South Florida in Tampa. In 2017 he moved to Germany and received a Marie Sklodowska Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Infectious Diseases at Heidelberg University. He joined Sumaya-Biotech in 2021.

Prof. Dr. Michael LanzerScientific Advisor
Prof. Dr. Michael LanzerScientific Advisor

Michael Lanzer studied Biology at the University of Heidelberg. After his Diploma, he joined the laboratory of Prof. Hermann Bujard to work with him on mechanisms of gene regulation in bacteria. He was awarded a PhD degree in 1988 from Heidelberg University. From 1988 to 1993, Michael Lanzer worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York under the supervision of Prof. Jeffrey Ravetch, where he studied gene regulation and chromosome organization in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. At the end of 1993, Michael Lanzer moved to the University of Würzburg to establish his own research laboratory as a junior research group leader and in 1999 he was appointed full professor and head of the Parasitology Department at Heidelberg University. The focus of his research interest has remained P. falciparum and, in particular, mechanisms of drug resistance and virulence and drug development. Michael Lanzer has published more than 150 PubMed listed scientific articles. He has coordinated several research networks funded by the EU and the DFG and has won twice funding from the German Excellence Initiative for a graduate school in Biology. Michael Lanzer has further served as member on several ERC review panels. Since 2017, he is the vice-dean for PhD affairs at the Biology Faculty at Heidelberg University.

Our Founder

Head of Herman Bujard

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hermann Bujard

Hermann Bujard pioneered work on transcriptional control in bacteria and phages, which eventually led to the discovery of the Tet technology for gene control in mammals and the founding of TET Systems.

Hermann Bujard was instrumental in shaping the ZMBH (Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie der Universität Heidelberg), he helped bring the EMBL to Heidelberg, and he served as the acting director of EMBO. These achievements proved quintessential for Heidelberg‘s standing as an international molecular biology hub.

As a true believer in social responsibility, he used some of his revenues from TET Systems to fund his Malaria research, which ultimately led to the founding of Sumaya Biotech in 2014, the same year he won the Robert Koch Medal in Gold for his life achievement.

Herman Bujard passed away in 2020.


About Malaria

Malaria, an ancient scourge of mankind, causes a heavy burden of mortality and morbidity in populations living in tropical and subtropical regions around the globe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO report 2021), about 241 million clinical malaria cases were reported in 2020 and about 627,000 patients, primarily children below the age of 5, died from malaria – more than 1,700 young lives lost every single day.


Countries where malaria is endemic face serious public health problems. The disease causes not only severe individual suffering, it has also a deleterious impact on people’s lifes including education, worker productivity, fertility and medical costs. Important and increasingly urgent, malaria severely impedes travel to endemic areas, and, concomitantly, investments and exchange of experts, crucial preconditions for infrastructural and economic development.

Global programs to fight malaria, including eradication of the mosquito carrier, bednets, etc. have been somewhat successful, particularly during the past decade. However, in spite of political commitment, much of the success relies on a high degree of compliance.


The ultimate success in any malaria elimination (local) or eradication (global) program will depend on the development of effective malaria vaccines and medication, especially in light of growing resistances against available malaria treatments.

A moving target

Malaria is caused by parasites, which are transmitted by mosquito bites. The first target of the parasite after the infective bite is the liver. Massive multiplication of the parasite in the liver and its release into the blood stream leads to the blood stage of the infection, where parasites infect red blood cells. Here, they multiply again, subsequently killing the host cells and re-infecting new red blood cells. It is this blood stage cycle that causes all pathophysiological symptoms and frequently leads to death in unprotected, “naive“ individuals.




Further Information

For further information on Malaria, please find a small selection of links below. We take no responsibility for the content of these pages.


Malaria Vaccines

Sumaya’s vaccines aim at alerting the human immune system towards two crucial stages of the parasite’s infectious cycle: the liver and the blood stage. This is a key competitive differentiator against most existing approaches.

The basis of our vaccine candidates is the large, membrane anchored “Merozoite Surface Protein 1” (MSP-1), which is exposed on the surface of merozoites, the form of the parasite that invades red blood cells.


SUM-101 (SumayaVac1) is based on the full-length, recombinant, 200kDa MSP-1 protein together with an adjuvant and was successfully tested in a first-in-human trial in Heidelberg. It was shown to be safe, well tolerated and immunogenic, with all vaccinees sero-converting. We are currently preparing the start of the second clinical trial, which will be performed in Tanzania on pre-exposed volunteers.


SUM-202 is an Adenovirus expressing MSP-1 and is planned to be used together with SUM-101 in a prime-boost scheme. It has started regulatory toxicological studies.


Our third development project is a small molecule intended for the treatment of severe malaria. SUM-201 (SC83288) has a completely new mechanism of action, making it a most interesting candidate for second line treatment in the face of increasing resistances against other Malaria therapeutics.


In addition, preclinical tests suggest that SUM-201 has a significantly better safety profile than currently used treatments against severe malaria, such as artemisins.


 SUM-201 is ready so start a first-in-human study.


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African SUM-101 trial: dosing completed

Sumaya's second clinical trial of SUM-101 is currently taking place in Bagamoya, Tanzania in collaboration with  Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Ifakara Health Institute. We are very happy to announce that dosing of all 40 volunteers with three vaccinations each has now been completed and no serious adverse events have been observed. First results on immune response are expected for April. More information on the trial can be found on Swiss TPH's homepage.

Sumaya presenting at the 20th International Congress for Tropical Medicine and Malaria in Bangkok

We presented the latest results on SUM-101 (SumayaVac1) at ICTMM2020 in October 2022. Our vaccine elicited FC-mediated effector functions through both IgG and IgM. Results on the high degree of multi-functionality of antibodies against the highly conserved N-terminal p83 subunit were discussed.  Notably, we showed the ability of SUM-101 to elicit a recall memory T cell response and induce cellular cytotoxicity through CD8T cells.


Sumaya presenting at BioMalPar XVII

On 23 - 25 May 2022, Sumaya-Biotech participated at the XVIII BioMalPar Conference on the Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite in Heidelberg. Richard Thomson Luque presented the results of the SUM-101 (SumavaVac1) first-in-human clinical trial and in particular introduced our latest results showing that IgG and IgM of vaccinees are capable of deploying a wide spectrum of long-lasting FC-mediated effector functions comparable to that of the natural immunity achieved by endemic exposed population.

EU Malaria Fund: AchilleS Vaccines, Magnetrap, KELTIC Pharma and Sumaya receive a total of EUR 17.6 million to develop malaria vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics

This week, AchilleS Vaccines S.r.l., Magnetrap SA, KELTIC Pharma Therapeutics Ltd and Sumaya Biotech GmbH & Co. KG. concluded contracts with the EU Malaria Fund (EUMF) to receive a total of €17.6 million for their innovative Malaria vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics research programmes.

Hermann Bujard, a passionate scientist, an inspiring mentor and a generous friend.


In August 2020, our founder passed away.


Beyond his merits in science, university policy and as an entrepreneur, we will remember Hermann Bujard as a great mentor, and a person who fought passionately for his goals.


We are honoured and proud to be able to continue his work.



Hermann Bujard on a meadow, happily raising his arms

New vaccine candidate sucessfuly tested in first-in-human clinical trial

A phase 1a clincal trial at the University Clinic Heidelberg showed: The vaccine candidate is very well tolerated and safe. All volunteers developed functional antibodies. SumayaVac1 of Heidelberg biotech company Sumaya Biotech was developed at the Centre for Molecular Biotechnology of Heidelberg University.

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Sumaya Biotech GmbH & Co. KG

Vangerowstrasse 20

69115 Heidelberg / GERMANY


Phone: +49 (6221) 588 04 05

Fax:     +49 (6221) 588 04 04


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Anfahrtskizze Vangerowstr. 20 69115 Heidelberg
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