SEATTLE, Wash., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- PATH today announced a new program
aimed at preventing pneumonia, a major childhood illness that causes the
deaths of up to one million children every year-primarily in developing
countries. The program will seek a vaccine that is capable of addressing a
broad range of strains of pneumococcus, a bacterium that causes pneumonia.
PATH, an international nonprofit organization with over 27 years of global
health experience, will work with public- and private-sector partners to
identify and test promising pneumococcal vaccines. The five-year effort is
supported by a US$75 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
PATH's pneumococcal vaccine effort builds on work begun in 2005 to produce
protein-derived vaccines to prevent strains of pneumococcus not addressed by
existing vaccines. The approach is aimed at identifying proteins that are
common to most strains of pneumococcus, then systematically testing these in
the lab. The hypothesis is that a new vaccine or combination of vaccines
containing "common proteins" could protect against the majority of types of
pneumococcus. A vaccine that can confer broad immunity holds the potential to
deliver the most effective protection to children worldwide.
John Boslego, MD, will lead PATH's pneumococcal vaccine development.
Boslego joined PATH in February 2006 after leading vaccine development at
Merck and Co., Inc. Boslego said, "We hope this new effort will encourage as
many scientists and manufacturers as possible to advance their research toward
preventing this childhood disease. Pneumonia is a familiar household word, and
the world can do a lot to prevent childhood deaths, especially in developing
countries, by coming up with solutions to prevent it." He added, "We are
hoping to shorten the timeline for getting these vaccines to the areas in
Regina Rabinovich, MD, MPH, director of infectious diseases for the Gates
Foundation, said, "Pneumococcal disease is a major global health problem,
killing or disabling up to 40 percent of the children who contract it in the
developing world." She added, "Innovation and collaboration are key to
developing effective pneumococcal vaccines for global health, and we're
pleased to support PATH in this critical effort."
Other partners active in this field include the Pneumococcal Accelerated
Development and Introduction Plan (PneumoADIP), based at Johns Hopkins
University, a program of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization
(GAVI), and other public sector partners, vaccine manufacturers, and academic
and research institutions.
The PATH program will be centered on upstream activities, i.e.; working
from discovery to preclinical testing to clinical trials, with an expectation
that new and promising vaccines will reach the developing world in the
shortest amount of time possible.
The timing of this announcement coincides with a major meeting of
scientists, pharmaceutical representatives, and other leading experts on
pneumococcal disease that is taking place in Alice Springs, Australia. World
experts meeting there are sharing their knowledge and research findings about
the global epidemiology and burden of pneumococcal disease, and identifying
tools to prevent and control the disease. Experts plan to announce a call for
"Development of a Global Action Plan Against Pneumonia" on April 6, 2006.
PATH is an international, nonprofit organization that creates sustainable,
culturally relevant solutions that enable communities worldwide to break
longstanding cycles of poor health. PATH works with partners on several new
vaccine development and introduction programs, including those centered on
prevention of malaria, rotavirus, Japanese encephalitis, and meningococcal
meningitis, among other global health priorities. By collaborating with
diverse public- and private-sector partners, PATH helps provide appropriate
health technologies and vital strategies that change the way people think and
act. PATH's work improves global health and well-being. Visit www.path.org.