Additional prizes have been awarded in a global US $30 million competition aimed at incentivising the development of a vaccine that is efficacious, safe and viable for use against Brucella melitensis in small ruminants across the developing world. Five organisations will each receive US $100,000 following their initial application. These organisations join three others that were awarded prizes in July.
Based on scientific soundness, suitability of research and appropriateness of manufacturing capabilities, the Competition’s expert Judging Panel awarded Phase 1 Milestone Payments to: CZ Veterinaria, a biopharmaceutical company located in Porriño, Spain; the Animal & Plant Health Agency, located in the UK; iVacBio, a biologics manufacturer located in Johannesburg, South Africa; The University of Florida based in Gainesville in the USA, and Universidade Nacional de San Martín located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
This second tranche of prizes awarded in the AgResults’ Brucellosis Vaccine Prize competition, which is implemented by the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), follows earlier payments to Brucella Greenvac, Virbac and Texas A&M University. Two prizes of US $100,000 remain available in Phase 1 of the competition, which closes on November 18, 2017.
Peter Jeffries, CEO of GALVmed, says that the depth of scientific expertise shown by applicants to the Brucellosis Vaccine Prize competition offers real hope that a new vaccine can be developed:
“The eight applications that have so far been accepted for awards represent an encouraging step towards the development of a vaccine that would significantly improve human and animal life across the world. We encourage any other interested organisations to submit their Phase 1 applications before 18th November.”
Andrés Fernandez, CEO of CZ Veterinaria explained that the global scale of the disease was a motivating factor when entering the competition:
“Brucellosis continues to be a problem for animals, farms and consumers; the fact that it 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. As an important part of our strategic plan focuses on the development and manufacture of brucellosis vaccines, we are continuously investigating innovative and effective solutions to fight against this disease.”
Dr John McGiven, project leader at the OIE Reference Laboratory for Brucellosis at the Animal & Plant Health Agency said:
“We feel the competition elevates recognition of the significance of this insidious and debilitating disease. For many years we have been focusing on improved methods for the serodiagnosis of brucellosis and this research revealed to us a route towards a new type of vaccine against brucellosis. The AgResults competition gave us additional incentive to pull these innovative concepts together in the belief that we can make a big difference to brucellosis control.”
Dr Sibongile Gumbi, Chief Entrepreneur and Founder from iVacBio explained that the competition aligned with the company’s core ethos:
“Our mission is to enhance the availability, affordability and accessibility of quality vaccines for the treatment of animal diseases that have a significant impact on African communities. The AgResults’ Brucellosis Vaccine Prize competition not only enables us to fulfil this mandate, but will make a significant contribution towards strengthening vaccine development and manufacturing capacity and capability in Africa to benefit livestock farmers, particularly in the developing world.”
Commenting on receiving the prize, Diego Comerci, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnólogicas from the Universidade Nacional de San Martín said:
“Our team is honoured to receive this prize. We have been working in the diagnosis, vaccine development, immune response and molecular pathogenesis of brucellosis for the past twenty years. The knowledge gained during this time is central for the development of new tools to control this neglected disease that still inflicts important economic and human health problems in many parts of the world. We are very excited to be a part of this initiative and look forward to being able to deliver a new and improved vaccine.”
Roy Curtiss, University of Florida’s Professor of One Health, said:
“The collaborative team here at the university is excited by the opportunity to contribute to the solution of a continuing major global problem of animal and human health. We are hopeful and optimistic that our years of technological developments in vaccinology will bear fruit and culminate in successful prevention of infections of animals and humans with Brucella species.”
Brucellosis 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.
The Brucellosis Vaccine Prize competition is 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. Implemented by the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), it involves three phases and can run for up to 10 years.
To be eligible for one of the two remaining prizes of US $100,000 in the first phase of the competition, organisations must apply by November 18, 2017. Potential entrants are invited to submit their applications at www.brucellosisvaccine.org. Full details and competition rules are also available on the website.