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International Consortium Receives $36.9 Million Grant to Fight Typhoid

November 10, 2016

Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA in Mali - PATH photo taken by Kristin Lewis

Project Led By University of Maryland School of Medicine Will Focus on Accelerating the Use of Vaccines to Protect From Disease That Kills More Than 220,000 Persons Annually

Typhoid fever, a bacterial infection that causes high fever and other disabling symptoms, remains a serious global problem in the developing world: it kills almost a quarter of a million people annually, and infects about 21 million.

To help speed the introduction of, and access to, new and more effective typhoid vaccines, the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) has received a grant of $36.9 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project, known as Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium (TyVAC), is a partnership with the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford and PATH, an international nonprofit global health organization based in Seattle. TyVAC will focus on conjugate vaccines, which can trigger a stronger immune response in certain vulnerable populations, such as infants and children, than current typhoid vaccines.

TyVAC will employ a multidisciplinary approach to study and control typhoid, and generate evidence that informs global policies. The project will work closely with governments and policymakers to introduce vaccines in lower-income countries with a high burden of typhoid. The effort will also examine how well the vaccine rollouts work in early adopter countries. The project’s overall goal is to support accelerated, evidence-based decisions for new typhoid conjugate vaccine introductions that will significantly reduce the severe health and economic burdens of the disease.

“Typhoid fever disproportionately impacts children and poor populations,” said Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, professor of medicine at UM SOM, director of CVD, and deputy director of the Institute for Global Health (IGH). “With our long history of work in typhoid and typhoid vaccines, we look forward to working with partners to catalyze action against this significant public health problem.”

The project will galvanize new vaccine introductions to reduce the death and disability inflicted by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (typhoid). “It is unconscionable that children are still dying by the thousands every year from diseases like typhoid that are completely preventable,” said Anita Zaidi, director of the Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The prevention and control of typhoidshould be a global health priority and we are pleased to support the Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium as part of our overall strategy to combat typhoid through an integrated approach including access to clean water, improved sanitation, and immunization.”

At present, the currently available vaccines for typhoid fever are underutilized despite the substantial disease burden and a World Health Organization recommendation for the use of typhoid vaccines in areas of high burden. Typhoid conjugate vaccines have the promise to overcome some of the barriers of the currently available vaccines, providing a stronger immune response, a longer duration of protection, and the ability to be incorporated into the routine vaccination schedule targeted at children less than two years old.

“We are excited to work in partnership with CVD to bring our expertise on typhoid infections and vaccines to the consortium and improve health through TyVAC,” said Andrew Pollard, MD, PhD, professor of pediatric infection and immunity at the University of Oxford, and director of the Oxford Vaccine Group.

Population density, limited sanitation, and poor water quality can provide a breeding ground for typhoid. “With increasing urbanization, we could see an even greater burden of typhoid,” noted Deborah Atherly, PhD, head of Policy, Access, and Introduction for PATH’s Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access. “Through TyVAC, we will work to ensure that typhoid vaccines finally reach those who need them most.”

“Typhoid is a significant public health problem in many parts of the world,” said UM SOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “Over several decades, the CVD has helped to save millions of lives. This generous grant from the Gates Foundation will allow our scientists, working with national and international partners, to continue with this crucial work.”

About the Center for Vaccine Development

The CVD at the University of Maryland School of Medicine works nationally and internationally to prevent disease and save lives through the development and delivery of vaccines. As an academic research center, CVD is engaged in the full range of vaccinology, including basic science research, vaccine development, pre-clinical and clinical evaluation, and post-marketing field studies. Learn more at http://medschool.umaryland.edu/cvd/.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

The University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world.

About the Oxford Vaccine Group

The University of Oxford is one of the top five higher education institutions in the world and hosts the Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG) in the Department of Paediatrics (www.ovg.ox.ac.uk). OVG is a vaccine design, development, clinical trials, and laboratory evaluation research group with specific expertise in vaccine evaluation in paediatric populations. The University of Oxford has strategically made a major investment in infrastructure to support research on vaccines and immunity over the past two decades. The OVG is one of the largest academic research groups in the world focused on designing, developing, and evaluating vaccines for children, as well as characterizing immune response to vaccines and infectious diseases.

About PATH

PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, we save lives and improve health, especially among women and children. We accelerate innovation across five platforms—vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations—that harness our entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, we take innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. Together, we deliver measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. Learn more at www.path.org.

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