The international HOOKVAC consortium, led by the Academic Medical Center (AMC) at the University of Amsterdam, has announced it has been awarded a grant of six million Euros from the European Commission FP7 programme to expand the Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership’s (Sabin PDP) work to develop and test a vaccine for human hookworm, a disease that infects 600-700 million of the world’s poorest people. Under this grant, the HOOKVAC consortium, which includes partners from the European Union, United States and Africa, will begin the first clinical testing of the human hookworm vaccine in the West African nation of Gabon.
For over a decade, the Sabin PDP, which is based at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, has been working on a human hookworm vaccine with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Brazilian Ministry of Health. A hookworm vaccine has the potential to dramatically improve the health, economic, and social landscape in countries with high burdens of hookworm disease. As sponsor of the vaccine, the Sabin PDP will contribute to the HOOKVAC consortium by sharing the technology, research findings, and clinical trial results generated in previous studies, and will collaborate on the new clinical studies in Gabon.
“The Sabin PDP is excited to join with new partners from the European Union and Gabon to advance the development of a human hookworm vaccine,” says Dr. Peter Hotez, director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “By sharing the Sabin PDP’s unique expertise in developing vaccines for NTDs with the HOOKVAC consortium, we intend to expand global knowledge of NTDs as well as benefit from the expertise of our new European and African partners to identify cutting edge ways to reduce the global burden of diseases affecting the world’s poorest people.”
Dr. Hotez was recently named the Fellow in Disease and Poverty at Baker Institute for Public Policy at the Rice University, and in June he testified in a presentation, entitled “Addressing the Neglected Diseases Treatment Gap,” regarding Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) R&D Funding before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Hearing. He is also author of the book “Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases: The Neglected Tropical Diseases and Their Impact on Global Health and Development,” in which he describes how while neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as being the most common infections of the world’s poor, few people in the developed West know about them and why they are so important.
An essential element of the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s mission to reduce human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) the Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership (Sabin PDP) is an internationally recognized PDP focused on creating safe, effective, low-cost vaccines for tropical infections in developing countries.
The Sabin Vaccine Institute PDP collaborates with partners from across the globe to develop new, low-cost vaccines that have essentially no commercial market for diseases that primarily impact the world’s poorest populations, including human hookworm, schistosomiasis and Chagas disease. The Sabin PDP works on developing vaccines for the more than 700 million people suffering from hookworm in the world today. Established in 2000 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sabin PDP (originally the Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative) is the only product development partnership in the world targeting human hookworm infection. A successful vaccine would alleviate the suffering of more than half a billion infected people. In 2008, Sabin PDP launched an initiative to develop a vaccine against schistosomiasis, which infects over 200 million people around the world and is the deadliest disease of the seven most prevalent NTDs, killing an estimated 280,000 people annually. With over a decade of experience, the program has produced a comprehensive, relatively low-cost model that serves as a blueprint for non-profit vaccine research and development and ongoing efforts to fight public health threats that adversely impact more than one billion people worldwide.
Hookworm primarily infects people living below the global poverty line, particularly pregnant women and children in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Left untreated, hookworm causes internal blood loss leading to iron-deficiency anemia and malnutrition. Hookworm also contributes to physical and cognitive impairment, poor school performance and attendance, and low birth weights.
The HOOKVAC consortium will build on the clinical development of a safe and cost-effective hookworm vaccine by conducting clinical Phase I studies that test two previously identified lead candidate antigens, Na-GST-1 and Na-APR-1, in African adults and children. Through previous funding received by the Sabin PDP, Phase I clinical trials for the safety and efficacy of Na-GST-1 are underway in the U.S. and Brazil, and a U.S. clinical trial for Na-APR-1 began earlier this month.
“The importance of developing a vaccine for hookworm cannot be overstated. This is a devastating disease in Gabon,” says Dr. Ayola Akim Adegnika, co-director of the Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon. “We are proud to take part in the launch of clinical testing in Gabon. The HOOKVAC consortium is paving the way for an advancement that could greatly improve people’s health, stimulate economic growth and give rise to other tools to control and eliminate parasitic diseases in Africa and around the world.”
Under the EU grant, European small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are enhancing global understanding of vaccines for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) through research and development partnerships that pave the way for an optimized manufacturing process and vaccine formulation.
“The European Commission is proud to support the critical work of the consortium for the development of a human hookworm vaccine,” says Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, MD, PhD, director of the Health Directorate at the Research DG of the European Commission. “Ultimately, we hope that the knowledge, innovations and research expertise resulting from this global collaboration will accelerate the development of the world’s first, effective hookworm vaccine and encourage additional European SME partnerships to explore vaccines for NTDs.”
The HOOKVAC consortium’s key European partners include the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam (AMC) and the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) in the Netherlands; Q-Biologicals in Belgium; University, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Center of Excellence Baden-Württemberg in Germany; Pharmidex in the UK; and the Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon. The key U.S. partners include the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Baylor College of Medicine and The George Washington University.
The Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development is an academic collaboration between the Academic Medical Centre, the University of Amsterdam, the VU University of Amsterdam, and non-governmental organizations. AIGHD links disciplines, resources, and innovative programs from academic institutions and implementing partners in both the developed and developing world, with the ultimate aim to lead the way to access to high quality health care for all inhabitants of this world. It aims to provide sustainable solutions to major health problems across our planet, by forging synergies between disciplines, health care delivery, research, and education.
The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering from vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Since its founding in 1993 in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the developer of the oral polio vaccine, Sabin has been at the forefront of global efforts to eliminate, prevent, and cure infectious and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin develops new vaccines, advocates for increased use of existing vaccines and promotes expanded access to affordable medical treatments in collaboration with governments, academic institutions, scientists, medical professionals and other non-profit organizations. For more information, please visit www.sabin.org.
The Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership (Sabin PDP) focuses on creating safe, effective and low-cost vaccines to prevent human suffering from infectious and neglected tropical diseases that infect more than 1 billion people worldwide. The Sabin PDP collaborates with private, academic and public institutions in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), the United States and Europe, for preclinical development, vaccine manufacturing and clinical testing. A complete overview of ongoing projects and partners is available at: