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GEN News Highlights : Sep 18, 2006

Infectious Disease Research Institute Receives $32-M Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Infectious Disease Research Institute(IDRI) received a $32-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a therapeutic vaccine for leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease that affects an estimated 12 million people worldwide.

IDRI will use the Gates Foundation grant to accelerate development of a candidate vaccine, known as Leish-111f, through clinical trials. The vaccine has already completed an initial safety study in the U.S. and is currently in testing in Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.

IDRI’s vaccine employs technology that fuses proteins together in an attempt to stimulate immune cells that can control leishmaniasis.

IDRI will employ its expertise in process sciences, formulation, and manufacturing to ensure that the necessary technology is transferred to countries with the greatest burden of leishmaniasis.

Leishmaniasis is a widespread parasitic disease with frequent epidemics in the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and Latin America. Typically transmitted by blood-sucking sand flies, leishmania are protozoan parasites that inhabit macrophages. Infection can cause fatal organ diseases and disfiguring skin and mucosal diseases.