What happened

Coronavirus stock BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) was a winner on Monday. Shares of the German biotech, famous for being the co-developer of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine, peaked at a gain of over 5% on the day before settling down to a 1.5% increase.

There were several news items impacting the company, the most important of which was its announcement of a new program.

So what

BioNTech announced Monday that it has launched a project aimed at developing a malaria vaccine based on the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology that underpins BNT162b2. The biotech said this program, "will assess multiple vaccine candidates featuring known Malaria targets ... as well as new antigens discovered in the pre-clinical research phase."

A researcher studying a sample in a Petri dish.

Image source: Getty Images.

The vaccine candidates that show the most promise in this phase will move on to further clinical development. BioNTech added that the start of clinical trials for the most promising one should launch in late 2022.

The company's second objective in its malaria effort is the establishment of sustainable production and supply operations in Africa -- assuming, of course, that it will be able to bring an effective vaccine to market.

Malaria, a serious and frequently fatal disease spread by mosquitoes, has long been a scourge in Africa. According to World Health Organization data, roughly 435,000 deaths from the disease occurred in 2017, with 93% of these occurring on the massive continent.

Now what

BioNTech is certainly setting its ambitions high. As with COVID-19, malaria is a widespread and challenging disease to tackle; both the company and the world have much to gain if its new program is successful.

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