MedImmune joins GSK, Vanderbilt U in Human Vaccines Project

AstraZeneca's ($AZN) MedImmune is joining the likes of Vanderbilt University and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) as a member of the Human Vaccines Project, the company announced Tuesday.

The public-private partnership, incubated at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), aims to accelerate the development of vaccines and immunotherapies against major infectious diseases and cancers "by decoding the human immune system."

"The human immune system is one of the most potent tools medicine has in the fight against disease," said Ronald Herbst, MedImmune's vice president of oncology R&D, in a statement. "We look forward to sharing our biologics expertise in immunology and infectious disease, while working with some of the key leaders in this area to help advance drug and vaccine development against a wide range of diseases."

MedImmune will help establish the Project's global consortium and launch its research program. In February, GSK contributed a $350,000 grant to do the same. This built on a previous grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded workshops to explore how to accelerate vaccine development by addressing major scientific challenges that impede vaccine R&D.

The Project's Human Immunome Program is an effort to "sequence the adaptive components of the immune system," in order to come up with a "parts list," which would inform the design of highly-targeted new vaccines, IAVI said in the statement. Its other program, Rules of Immunogenicity, involves conducting many small, iterative human clinical research trials to pinpoint and solve key problems that impede vaccine development.

- read the release