The TBVI consortium has been granted 24.6 million euros from the European Commission H2020 framework programme (€18.2 mln.) and several institutions as well as national governments outside the EC, among others Switzerland, South Korea and Australia. With this grant the new TBVAC2020 project will be funded, so TBVI can continue its efforts to discover and develop new tuberculosis vaccines.
TBVI is a non-profit foundation that supports, integrates, translates and prioritizes research & development (R&D) efforts to discover and develop new TB vaccines that are accessible and affordable for all.
TBVI is a support platform for vaccine researchers and developers, and does not have its own commercial interests nor does it take ownership of vaccine and biomarker developments and does not claim any intellectual property rights.
Dr Nick Drager, TBVI’s Executive Director notes that “these funds will enable us to continue our long standing and effective collaboration with top European laboratories and to add new partners in research and development efforts to innovate and diversify the TB vaccine and biomarker pipeline and to support and accelerate the development of the most promising vaccine candidates through early development stages.”
A recent report by the WHO states that Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s deadliest communicable diseases. In 2013 an estimated 9 million people developed TB and 1.5 million died from the disease. To meet global targets of reducing TB infection it is essential to replace the existing BCG vaccine with new and effective TB vaccines that protect all people from infection. New vaccines will also be essential to address the growing problem of multi drug resistant TB.
The TBVAC2020 project combines a creative ‘bottom-up’ approach for vaccine discovery, new preclinical models addressing clinical challenges and identification and characterization of correlates of protection, with a portfolio management approach to select the most promising TB vaccine candidates. There will be comparative evaluation using objective gating and priority setting criteria and direct, head-to head or comparative preclinical and early clinical evaluation.
Prof. Dr Dr h.c. Stefan Kaufmann of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, chair of the Steering Committee of the new project, explains that with strong support from EC, TB vaccine development has come a long way. “Still there is an urgent need for innovative vaccine candidates that perform better. This can best be achieved by interdisciplinary research and development. TBVAC 2020 has gathered the best European TB researchers and hence is excellently positioned to accomplish this important goal.”
According to Dr Line Matthiessen of the European Commission (Head of the Unit Fighting Infectious Diseases and Global Epidemics at EC DG Research & Innovation), support from the EU’s Framework Programmes has been instrumental in strengthening the TB vaccine pipeline over the last 10 years. “In the first year of Horizon 2020 the European Commission has committed to continue to support TB vaccine development and to address the challenges posed by this disease. €26 million has been allocated to two promising consortia which will test new ideas, bring many promising candidates forward in the pipeline, and establish global portfolio management principles in order to align the TB vaccine research community toward the common goal of producing effective TB vaccines for everybody.”
TBVI will provide project management and oversight – but most importantly will use its best practices and platforms to facilitate knowledge exchange and promote synergies among the consortium partners to accelerate the discovery and development of new vaccine candidates.