The HOOKVAC consortium, led by the Academic Medical Center (AMC) at the University of Amsterdam, today 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.
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.
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 importance of developing a vaccine for hookworm cannot be overstated. This is a devastating disease in Gabon," said Dr. Ayola Akim Adegnika, co-director of the Centre de Recherches M-dicales de Lambar-n- 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 this 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," said 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."