PATH is pleased to announce that we have received a Translation Fund award from the Wellcome Trust. The new award provides funding of more than US$4 million over 30 months, and it represents the first time that PATH has received this type of award from the United Kingdom-based agency. The award will support the clinical development of DB Fusion, a novel, serotype-independent vaccine candidate to prevent Shigella dysentery.
Since 2010, PATH has been working in partnership with Drs. Bill and Wendy Picking, who were researchers at Oklahoma State University (OSU), to develop a vaccine to prevent the short- and long-term negative effects of bacteria known as Shigella. Infection with Shigella causes bloody diarrhea and represents a major health threat to children living in poorer countries where access to clean water and appropriate hygiene and sanitation practices to prevent such diseases are lacking.
Unlike other Shigella vaccines currently under development, the approach used with this vaccine candidate, DB Fusion, targets proteins found on the surface of the bacteria to provide broad protection against all types of Shigella with one simple vaccine. The vaccine is intended for administration via a small needle that only goes into the skin's outermost layer (known as intradermal immunization, a procedure long in use for other vaccines) and given in combination with a component that may enhance the vaccine's effectiveness.
PATH and the Picking team have already completed preclinical research studies demonstrating the DB Fusion's protection against several types of Shigella, and we are now collaborating on developing a process to manufacture the vaccine for clinical use. With the Wellcome Trust award, we plan to conduct early-stage clinical studies on the safety of the vaccine candidate in humans and, if warranted, a subsequent trial to show that it can protect humans against illness caused by Shigella.