News » GW Researchers Receive Grant to Develop Hookworm Vaccine

GW Researchers Receive Grant to Develop Hookworm Vaccine

WASHINGTON (Oct. 22, 2013) –Researchers at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), in partnership with the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, have received a grant to develop and test a novel, low-cost hookworm vaccine to help control human hookworm infection in endemic countries. 

The $288,144 grant, awarded by the European Commission, offers a new opportunity for Jeffrey Bethony, Ph.D., and David Diemert, M.D., both associate professors of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at GW SMHS, to expand their clinical development to Africa, where approximately 200 million people are infected with hookworm. The work contributes to the development of an effective and accessible hookworm vaccine for vulnerable populations by advancing clinical development and validating safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine in adults and children in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Africa has the highest burden of hookworm disease in the world and a lot of other co-infections, such as Malaria and HIV, which can also cause anemia – a main consequence of hookworm infection,” said Diemert. “Studying the vaccine in a population where it will be widely used will allow us to see the effects in different genetic populations and different co-infections, as well.”

Right now, they currently have two antigens that have been development in partnership with the Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership. Over the five year grant period, the research team will work with small and medium sized European manufacturers to develop a single vaccine that combines the two antigens. The new combination vaccine will then be tested in a series of clinical trials in Gabon, Africa, over a four year time period.

“To expand our reach into Africa is important, not only for the success of the vaccine, but for the people of sub-Sahara Africa, particularly children, who suffer from hookworm,” said Bethony.

As hookworm is one of the world’s most prevalent neglected infectious diseases, and a major threat to human health, Bethony and Diemert are hopeful the vaccine their team will develop will be used to help control infections in endemic areas, such as Africa.

For more information about the project, visit http://www.sabin.org/updates/pressreleases/new-global-consortium-advance-first-ever-clinical-testing-human-hookworm.

Media: To schedule an interview with Dr. Diemert or Dr. Bethony, please contact Lisa Anderson at lisama2@gwu.edu or 202-994-3121.

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Founded in 1825, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities. www.smhs.gwu.edu.