The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), a new public health partnership that is bringing Japanese know-how and investment to the global fight against infectious diseases, on Friday announced the grants of US$5.7 million to six global partnerships working on innovative drugs and vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and Chagas disease.
This was contained in a press statement made available to journalists in New York by Dr. BT Slingsby, the Executive Director of the GHIT, who stated that the agency's six new investments in potential treatments for malaria, tuberculosis and Chagas disease, infections that afflict roughly one in seven of our world's population, were a definitive step forward for, and a clear exemplification of, Japanese innovation and its application to global health.
Also a co-author of the statement who is the Chairman of the board of the GHIT Fund, Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, said that by ending the vicious cycle of infections, poverty and destabilized communities, new drugs and vaccines for the poorest people in the world could bring stability and build new markets around the world.
"For malaria, a disease that sickens more than 200 million people each year and kills more than 650,000, the GHIT Fund will fund four new research and development (R&D) investments. "The first is with the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases (RIMD) at Osaka University, in partnership with the Medical Center for Translational Research, Osaka University Hospital and Gulu University in Uganda, for roughly US$735,000 to test their newly formulated BK-SE36 malaria vaccine" the statement reads in parts.
The statement pressed further that a recently published study had revealed that the vaccine showed efficacy against severe malarial infections, making it a promising malaria vaccine candidate. "In the initial trials in a malaria-prone region of Uganda, however, many vaccinated adult individuals failed to generate a strong immune response to the original BK-SE36" it noted.
It further said that the research team would use the new grant to test whether adding CpG, a substance known as an adjuvant, could boost the subjects' response to the vaccine, stressing that researchers agreed that a vaccine was desperately needed to check malaria's spread in the developing world, as part of a multipronged approach that includes other tools like bednets, sprays and antimalarial drugs.