The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $10 million to Seattle, WA-based IDRI for formulating new and improved vaccine adjuvants, focusing predominantly on tuberculosis.
The three-year grant will center on developing a new shot for a disease for which only a 90-year-old vaccine exists. TB, caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, usually attacks the lungs but can also take aim at the kidneys, spine and brain. Doctors often dose infants and children with Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), the vaccine in place in countries where the disease is common. But here's the thing with BCG: The jab doesn't always protect people from contracting TB. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the vaccine--first administered in 1921--only be used for a few select people who meet specific criteria and consult a TB expert.
IDRI's TB vaccine uses an antigen to promote immune response and an adjuvant to supply those antigens with a boost. The organization wants to find a way to circumvent the usual process of adding an adjuvant immediately before injecting a patient. Dipping needles in two vials before administering a shot increases the risk of contamination, and using two separate vials ups costs in terms of production and transportation.
The work may also apply to leishmaniasis, a common parasite in Africa, South America and places where sandflies can spread the disease. And the adjuvant research, in general, could help support an HIV vaccine, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation regularly doles out cash to biotechs in the name of global health. Last month, the organization granted $100,000 to an AgResearch scientist for research for a new tuberculosis vaccination method. And in September, Atreca landed $6 million to look into malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis vaccines.
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