The Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute, a leader in promoting the development and use of vaccines to prevent disease, announced that it has received a grant of US$ 21.8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Sabin Vaccine Institute will use this grant to advance its Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative (HHVI). Phase I safety trials of the human hookworm vaccine have started in the United States.
Funding from the Gates Foundation will be used to ascertain the vaccine’s efficacy and safety in endemic areas of Brazil, and to support the manufacturing and quality control process and eventual industrial scale production of the vaccine in Brazil.
The announcement was made at The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., a principal research site for HHVI and where the vaccine was developed by Peter Hotez, MD, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology and Tropical Medicine, and his team.
HHVI research is also being conducted at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) and the Butantã Institute in Brazil, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia.
Human hookworm infection, which is most common in areas of rural poverty in the tropics and subtropics, is caused by parasitic worms that infiltrate the body in the larval stage by burrowing into the skin of the hands, arms, legs or feet, or through oral ingestion.
Ultimately, the hookworms enter the gastrointestinal tract, fastening onto the inner layers of the small intestine. Using sharp, teeth-like projections, they extract blood. In fact, one thousand hookworms can simultaneously drain almost a cup of blood per day from an individual’s circulation.
Human hookworm infection afflicts 740 million individuals worldwide, most commonly in areas of rural poverty. It is caused by parasitic hookworms that infiltrate the body and enter the gastrointestinal tract, fastening onto the inner layers of the small intestine.
Using sharp, teeth-like projections, they extract blood. This blood loss leads to iron deficiency, anemia and protein malnutrition.
Chronic hookworm disease contributes to growth retardation and intellectual and cognitive impairment in children. In pregnant women, it can result in adverse fetal outcomes.
“The Gates Foundation again has demonstrated its commitment to achieving equity in global health, particularly among ‘the poorest of the poor,’ by awarding nearly US$ 40 million to HHVI since 2000,” said H.R. Shepherd, SVI Chairman. “Without this support, we simply could not develop a human hookworm vaccine.”
The Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute (SVI) is dedicated to saving lives by advancing the development of new vaccines and increasing global immunization.
Sabin Vaccine Institute – www.sabin.org