TBVI receives $3 million research grant from Gates Foundation
With the award of up to 3 million dollars spread over 3 years, TBVI can support the development of several TB vaccine candidates.
Lelystad, The Netherlands – TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI), a non-profit organisation that supports the development of urgently needed new vaccines against tuberculosis (TB), will receive a new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With the award of up to 3 million dollars spread over 3 years, TBVI can support the development of several TB vaccine candidates and contribute to the fight against this ghastly disease.
“Wonderful progress has been made in the field of TB vaccine research over the past years. But we are not there yet,” says TBVI’s director Jelle Thole. “Now more than ever, we need to keep investing to make sure we can guide some promising vaccine candidates through the consecutive stages of development. We’re grateful that the Gates Foundation decided to make this possible and continue their support to us.”
Tuberculosis, an ancient disease and one of the deadliest infections in the world, takes 1.4 million lives every year. Nearly 9 million new cases are diagnosed annually, and it is estimated that a third of the world population carries a latent infection and is in danger of developing active disease later on. The rise of drug resistant forms of the disease, that are difficult and expensive to treat, makes tuberculosis even more of a threat. New vaccines would make a huge impact in the fight against TB and could cause a steep and steady decline in the number of cases, eventually eliminating the disease.
TBVI, through its network of over 50 research institutes and universities, supports and facilitates the development of new vaccines. The consortium discovered around 40 new vaccine candidates, which are in different stages of development; from laboratory stage till various phases of clinical evaluation. With the new grant several vaccine candidates can be compared and evaluated in a head-to-head fashion, to ensure only the best, safest and most effective vaccines will continue their development. The grant also allows the manufacturing and evaluation of one vaccine candidate in a Phase I clinical trial. This candidate will be selected through an open call for proposals that will be launched at the end of June. To ensure rapid delivery of new vaccines to the world, long-term, dedicated investment is crucial. The grant to TBVI will therefore also be used to continue some of the resource mobilisation, advocacy and communications activities.
There is currently only one vaccine against TB available on the market, BCG. Although this vaccine seems to protect well against severe forms of childhood tuberculosis, it provides very limited protection against lung tuberculosis, the most prevalent and contagious form of the disease. Also, BCG is not safe in HIV infected people. Several new vaccines are needed to get the disease under control; vaccines to boost BCG, to replace BCG, and to protect latently infected people from developing disease. Without more effective vaccines, it is highly unlikely the world will be able to eliminate TB.