Three organizations have each been awarded prizes of US $100,000 following their initial application to the Brucellosis Vaccine Development Prize – a global US $30 million competition aimed at incentivising the development of a new Brucella melitensis vaccine.
The competition’s expert Judging Panel awarded Phase 1 Milestone Payments to the trio: European biotech company Brucella Greenvac, international animal health company Virbac and US-based Texas A&M University.
These are the first prizes to be awarded as part of the AgResults Brucellosis Vaccine Development competition, following an assessment of each organization’s application based on scientific soundness and plausibility, and suitability of research and manufacturing capabilities.
The Brucellosis Vaccine Prize is a global competition designed, funded, and managed by AgResults, a collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It invites vaccine developers to submit their proposals for the development (and ultimately registration) of a suitable vaccine that is efficacious, safe and viable for use against Brucella melitensis in small ruminants across the developing world. Implemented by the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), the competition involves three phases and can run for up to 10 years.
Ignacio Grilló, Director, Brucella Greenvac, says to be recognized at this stage has boosted expectations and given its scientific team confidence to continue.
“The fact that this disease ranks consistently among the top sanitary problems in the world, and that we have the possibility to contribute a solution for so many people and animals in developing countries, gives us extra motivation.”
Jean-Pascal Marc, Corporate Product Innovation Director at Virbac, says: “Virbac is very proud to have an ambitious brucellosis vaccination project recognized by such prestigious organizations as AgResults and GALVmed. This is an additional source of motivation for all involved teams to pursue the aim of delivering a more efficient and safer vaccine to fight such an important disease.”
Thomas Ficht, Professor Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University, says the team is honored to receive the award, which culminates 30+ years of scientific research, development and innovation.
“This will prepare the team for the overall program goal of large-scale manufacturing and commercial product distribution, which could ease economic hardships and potentially offer relief from disease to millions of people and animals.”
Peter Jeffries, CEO of GALVmed, says there has been wide ranging interest in the competition since it opened for applications last year and awarding these three Milestone 1 Payments is an indication of how committed organizations are to helping develop a new vaccine.
“We know we’re only at the beginning of the process – and that developing a new vaccine that meets the required criteria is a real challenge – but the initial signs are extremely positive. We’re excited and are continuing to encourage other organizations to submit their applications to be part of the competition.”
Brucellosis is a neglected, zoonotic disease that remains endemic across much of the developing world and impacts the majority of the 600 million people in those regions whose livelihoods depend on livestock. For example, the annual impact to smallholder farmers in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated at US $500 million per year.
Other organizations considering applying for the first phase of the competition must apply by November 18, 2017, to be eligible for one of the seven remaining prizes of US $100,000. Potential entrants are invited to submit their applications at www.brucellosisvaccine.org. Full details and competition rules are also available on the website.
AgResults is a $122 million collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to incentivise and reward high-impact agricultural innovations that promote global food security, health, and nutrition and benefit smallholder farmers. The initiative is currently implementing six pilots in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia and the Brucellosis Vaccine Development Prize.
GALVmed, through its partners, makes livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics accessible and available to the millions of smallholder livestock and poultry keepers in developing countries for whom livestock is a lifeline. The international not-for-profit company harnesses the best available expertise and capabilities to develop vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for neglected livestock diseases.