Researchers Cite Vaccines' Potential to Break Poverty Cycle; Genomics and Innovative Partnerships are Key to Parasitic and Bacterial Vaccine Development


WASHINGTON -- In "The antipoverty vaccines," an article to be published in the journal Vaccine, Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, and Meghan T. Ferris, MD, explain how a group of parasitic and bacterial illnesses are not only caused by poverty, but also perpetuate it. The impact of neglected tropical diseases on child and adolescent development, maternal and prenatal conditions, and worker productivity holds populations in a persistent state of

underdevelopment. The article describes the effects and the scope of 11 neglected tropical diseases and the status of clinical trials for vaccines for three of these diseases: hookworm, leishmaniasis, and schistosomiasis. The article will be published online July 10 and in print July 26.

Hotez and Ferris contend that, due to new advances in bioinformatics, there is a possibility of development of new vaccines for most of the other neglected tropical diseases described in the article: amebiasis, Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, Chlamydia infections, leprosy, leptospirosis, syphilis and other treponematoses. In fact, the article explains that scientists have more information "in terms of genomic and proteomic database" for most of the other infections being discussed than for hookworm or schistomiasis, for which human clinical trials are already underway.

At this time, the largest barriers to vaccine development are not scientific, as the authors say, "Our technical ability to produce neglected disease vaccines has outpaced the social and political will needed to translate scientific discoveries into products." Public-private partnerships, advanced market commitments, and other innovative strategies will be required to achieve and sustain funding for vaccines for these "orphan" diseases, or diseases whose vaccine holds little financial incentive for potential manufacturers. The way forward also will include partnerships with innovative developing countries.

Hotez is principal scientist for the Sabin Vaccine Institute (SVI) and professor and chair of microbiology, immunology and tropical medicine at The George Washington University. He is principal investigator for the SVI Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative that has developed a first-generation hookworm vaccine comprised of a recombinant protein, which is proceeding to clinical testing. Ferris is a medical resident at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

The human hookworm vaccine is an example of a technology created to address a critical global health problem and developed through a public-private partnership. Hookworms cause one of the world's most prevalent infections, afflicting an estimated 576 million people in the developing nations of the Tropics. Through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Sabin Vaccine Institute's Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative is taking on a huge global problem that would otherwise perhaps not garner the attention it deserves.

The Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute's mission is to prevent disease by advancing development of new vaccines and increasing immunization rates. Founded in 1993, the Institute pursues Albert Sabin's vision of a world protected from disease by vaccines.

Source: Sabin Vaccine Institute

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