Sanofi Pasteur joins other industry, academic players in Human Vaccines Project

Sanofi Pasteur has become the latest industry player to join up with the Human Vaccines Project--a global consortium seeking to address prominent issues hindering vaccine development--announcing late last week it's contributing funds for scientific and administrative activities.

The project, incubated at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, brings together industry, academia and nonprofits in an effort to "decode" the human immune system and advance vaccine development and immunology. Sanofi Pasteur's financial support will help the program launch pilot studies, build partnerships and establish its infrastructure, according to a release.

Other industry-side players are GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK)--which contributed a $350,000 grant in February 2015 to help it get set up--AstraZeneca's ($AZN) MedImmune and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Crucell. On the academia and nonprofit side are the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded workshops aimed at accelerating vaccine development, and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which in July 2015 became the project's first scientific hub.

Sanofi Pasteur will be represented by Kent Kester, R&D VP for Translational Science & Biomarkers. It'll be a member of the Industry Advisory Committee and will provide input, review data and participate in workshops hosted by the consortium.

The project came about when 35 vaccines experts convened in La Jolla, CA, in February 2014 and decided that the project was "potentially transformative," according to a release. Three initial challenges the group outlined are an insufficient knowledge base about specific, potent, broad and durable immune responses; an insufficient understanding of precise antigens required to produce protective immunity; and a need to design better vaccines for elderly people, newborns and people in the developing world. The group aims to raise $1 billion over a decade.

- here's the release