The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has received a grant of US$350,000from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to support implementation of the Human VaccinesProject, a new public-private partnership seeking to transform global disease prevention by collaboratively addressing some of the principal scientific problemsimpeding vaccine development across diseases.
The GSK grant will help to establish the Project’s global consortium and plan itsresearch program. The funding builds on a grant last year to IAVI by the Robert WoodJohnson Foundation for a series of workshops to explore how to acceleratedevelopment of vaccines via a Human Vaccines Project, by tackling the major scientific challenges impeding vaccine research and development (R&D) throughgreater collaboration, increased knowledge sharing, and innovation. For the same, the first workshop has been held during February 2014, which focused on the scientificchallenges to vaccine development, at which leading vaccine experts endorsed the Project’s objectives and helped to frame its scientific plan.
Wayne C. Koff, IAVI Chief Scientific Officer and founding member of the HumanVaccines Project Board, announced the GSK grant during a symposium at the AAAS2015 Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA.
“For all that we have achieved with vaccines, there are still far too many diseases that we can’t prevent and which have a devastating impact, particularly in thedeveloping world,” says Emmanuel Hanon, Senior Vice President, VaccinesResearch and Development, GSK. “The more we can do – both individually andcollectively – to overcome the current scientific challenges the better. We are verypleased to support the Human Vaccines Project and we encourage others to join us in this potentially ground-breaking initiative.”
The Project’s objectives are to facilitate development of new and improved vaccinesby deciphering the “Human Immunome,” all the genes and proteins associatedwith the human immune system, and elucidating the “Rules of Immunogenicity”,i.e., how humans generate effective immune responses with vaccines. Thus, the Project aims to address the common scientific obstacles preventing development ofvaccines against major and emerging infectious diseases and cancerscomplementing ongoing disease- specific vaccine development efforts.
“Industry involvement will be key to the success of the Human Vaccines Project, andwe are excited that GSK has become the first corporate partner of the Project.Their support will help to engage other pharmaceutical partners to join thisimportant new initiative,” said Koff.
In July 2014, 20 business leaders from the public and private sectors reviewed theProject’s mission and goals, and recommended the Project be structured as aglobal, nonprofit R&D consortium closely engaged with industrial partners, andaffiliated with one or more academic centers conducting vaccine R&D (ExpertReview of Vaccines, in press). The Project is currently in the process of establishingthe principal hubs of such a consortium, including exploration of centers in theUnited States, Europe and Asia, to which leadership of the Project will thentransition from IAVI, its initial catalyst.
“The Human Vaccines Project is driven by the rapid pace of technological advancesin genomics, bioinformatics and structural and systems biology, and likely would not have been possible even five years ago. It is a tremendously exciting time in vaccinology as we move toward preventing very challenging global killers such asAIDS, TB, malaria, Ebola, and cancers. Science and innovation will get us thevaccines we need,” said Stanley Plotkin, Emeritus Professor of the University ofPennsylvania and Chairman of the Human Vaccines Project Steering Committee.