Pioneering Bacterial Vaccines network launched through University of Birmingham

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have established a global bacterial vaccinology network that will facilitate the development of vaccines against bacterial infections that affect low and middle income countries (LMICs).  

BactiVac

Vaccines save millions of lives every year and typically work silently in the background, promoting the body’s ability to kill the pathogen before an infection is established. Despite this, bacteria still cause around six million deaths per year in humans and many more in animals, with people in LMICs disproportionately affected. 

The new £2.2 million Bacterial Vaccines (BactiVac) network will bring together academia and industry involved in human and animal vaccine research from the UK and other countries to foster partnership, disseminate relevant information and provide funding to accelerate bacterial vaccine development against global health infections that particularly affect LMICs. 

Professor Calman MacLennan, Honorary Professor of Vaccine Immunology with the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, MRC Senior Clinical Fellow with the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and Director of BactiVac commented: 

‘As anti-microbial resistance increases the number of deaths from bacterial infections will rise with devastating personal and economic consequences. One reason why bacteria can cause so much harm is that for many of these diseases there is either no vaccine or the existing vaccine provides only limited protection. 

‘Through BactiVac we will support the development of new vaccines against bacterial infections that will protect communities in all countries, particularly LMICs. We will help overcome barriers that currently prevent such vaccines from being developed, allowing new vaccines to be delivered where they are most needed.’ 

A particular focus will be to address knowledge gaps in the area, such as the identification of bacterial vaccine priorities for LMICs and manufacturers with capacity to develop high quality global health vaccines at low cost, as well as to support the transition of vaccines from pre-clinical to clinical trials. 

Co-director Professor Adam Cunningham, Professor of Functional Immunity with the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, added: 

‘BactiVac will be centred in the UK, harnessing the considerable strength already present in the UK in disciplines related to bacterial vaccinology, including immunology, epidemiology, systems biology, clinical trials, and support for vaccine licensure. Crucially, the network will build on and foster new partnerships with industry and manufacturers within developing countries. 

‘The network will support bacterial vaccine development from when the idea is conceived to when it is licensed for use in humans or animals, particularly helping at those points where most potential vaccines flounder, such as the transition through process development to first trials in humans.’ 

BactiVac has been supported by the GCRF Networks in Vaccines Research and Development, which was co-funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

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