Views from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Speeding up the fight against poverty-related diseases

A new multimillion-pound project is underway to speed the development of new vaccines, drugs and microbicides to combat tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine will work with 17 research partners in 10 countries as part of the European Research Infrastructures for Poverty Related Diseases (EURIPRED) – a £9.1 million (€10.9M) project, co-funded with £7.1 million (€8.5M) from the European Commission.

Despite substantial efforts to reduce the burden of poverty-related diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria still account for 3.4 million deaths worldwide every year. Among the reasons are the absence of vaccines, tough and burdensome treatment courses, and underdiagnosis.

To assist with the urgent development of new tools to combat these diseases, EURIPRED will bring together organisations in Europe, Africa and Asia. Under this single infrastructure, research ranging from development to clinical trials will be coordinated and knowledge will be shared across organisations.

Hazel Dockrell, Professor of Immunology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who is leading the School’s involvement in EURIPRED, said: “By creating partnerships between European scientists and international research teams from disease endemic countries, we expect to speed up the development of new vaccines, drugs and microbicides. By minimising fragmentation and duplication of research efforts and pooling fragmented resources EURIPRED can improve research efficiency and effectiveness.”

The School will work with the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, Leiden University Medical Centre, the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, and the European Infrastructure for Translational Medicine to standardise and qualify key immunological assays currently used in vaccine development for TB, HIV, and malaria. This will allow these assays to be made widely available to the vaccine development field, ensuring that results from different trials at different institutes can be directly compared. This will allow subsequent clinical trial data to be recognised by regulatory authorities, which will speed up trial vaccines towards being fully licensed for use.

Coordinated by the Centre for AIDS Reagents at the National Institute of Biological Standards and Control, UK, partners include:

  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK
  • King’s College London, UK
  • University of Oxford, UK
  • National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention at the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, China
  • D.I. Ivanovsky Institute of Virology of The Ministry of Health and Social Development of The Russian Federation
  • Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain
  • Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya
  • JPT Peptide Technologies GmbH, Germany Polymun Scientific Immunbiologische Forschung GmbH, Austria
  • Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands
  • Icosagen AS, Estonia
  • Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative, The Netherlands
  • University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Lionex GmbH, Germany
  • Eatris, The Netherlands
  • Federal State Budgetary Educational Institution of Higher Professional Education, State University of Management, Russian Federation

Image: Vaccination in Mwanza, Tanzania. Credit: Deborah Watson-Jones, LSHTM

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