A $2.4 million grant has been received
by Children’s Hospital Boston, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The research concerning the development of novel vaccines for newborns, spearheaded by Ofer Levy, MD, Ph.D., a principal investigator in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s, is supported by the grant.
Every year, more than two million newborns and infants less than six months of age, die from infectious diseases. Most pediatric vaccines, currently are given at two, four and six months of age, when the immune system is more responsive.
This schedule does not work for the resource-poor settings that lack out-patient clinic infrastructures and thus are not able to provide proper vaccination to many infants un- or under-vaccinated. Newborns, particularly those born prematurely, even in wealthier nations, are vulnerable to infections during the two-month window before immunizations begin.
The development of vaccine not only suffers from the socio-economic challenges but also has the problem with the use of animal models that are costly and may not accurately predict vaccine responses in humans.
The Levy’s team, with the support of this grant, will be able to develop a new, cutting-edge in vitro platform to model human newborn immune responses to novel vaccine formulations in hopes of predicting vaccine safety and efficacy.
The group, in conjunction with Jeffrey Hubbell, Ph.D., and Melody Swartz, Ph.D., of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and Alexander Andrianov, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, of Apogee Technology, will explore an innovative vaccine formulation targeting human immunodeficiency virus and will characterize its activity towards neonatal white blood cells.
To develop safe and effective vaccines in newborns, requiring fewer doses to reach efficacy, thereby closing the window of infant vulnerability is the prime goal. Being able to vaccinate infants at birth would also have important public health benefits, as on a global basis, birth may be the only time an infant sees a healthcare provider.
“We are extremely grateful for this grant, which will greatly accelerate the development of novel approaches to test candidate pediatric vaccine formulations, leading to new safe and effective neonatal vaccines,” Levy, said.
related news, Michigan Health Connect has announced its establishment as a health information exchange spanning the state of Michigan. The example of how health care organizations can work together to advance health information exchange across their communities will be set by Five Michigan hospital systems.
Deepika Mala is a contributing editor for HealthTechZone. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Marisa Torrieri