The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a three-year, $10 million grant to the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) in support of its efforts to boost the effectiveness of vaccines, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports.
IDRI, a Seattle-based nonprofit biotechnology organization, will use the funds to formulate new and enhanced adjuvants, which are added to vaccines to help the body's immune system recognize which bacteria, virus, or parasite to fight. Currently, adjuvants must be added to a vaccine immediately before injecting the patient; a syringe is filled with the vaccine and then the adjuvant, increasing the risk of cross-contamination. IDRI will work to reduce health risk and production and transportation costs by eliminating the need for two vials for a single vaccination.
The grant also will support research focused primarily on tuberculosis. "There hasn't been a new vaccine for tuberculosis in ninety years," said Erik Iverson, the organization's executive vice president and business development and external affairs officer, who noted that existing TB immunizations are not effective after adolescence. The research also could have applications for leishmaniasis, a common parasitic killer in parts of Africa, South America, and other regions where sand flies spread the disease.