The FINANCIAL Channel
21st June 2017
Major funding to advance world’s first river blindness vaccine
The University of Liverpool is part of a new $3.6 million international project to put into action a strategic plan to create a preventative vaccine for River Blindness, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the disease from Sub-Saharan Africa.
River blindness, scientifically known as onchocerciasis, is a skin and eye disease caused by the Onchocerca volvulus, a parasite that can cause permanent blindness. An estimated 18 million people are still infected with Onchocerca volvulus, including 12.2 million who suffer from Onchocerca skin disease and 1.025 million people who have permanent vision loss, according to the World Health Organisation and the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015.
Led by the New York Blood Centre (NYBC) and funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a consortium of partners will continue their work on developing a prophylactic vaccine for the disease.
The group will test vaccine formulations in mice to identify those that induce the highest protective immunity. Formulations will then be tested in naïve calves against a natural infection with Onchocerca ochengi, a closely related parasite known to mimic the immunological status of humans living in regions susceptible for Onchocerca volvulus infection. Once the optimal vaccine formulation is found, the consortium will move to clinical development and first-in-human clinical phase 1 trials by the year 2020, according to the University of Liverpool.