Experts to gather in Africa to speed up development of vaccines to prevent bacterial infections

BactiVac Network Co-Directors, Professor Cal MacLennan and Professor Adam Cunningham

A global network of scientists led by the University of Birmingham who are working together to accelerate the development of vaccines against bacterial infections in low and middle income countries (LMICs) are to stage an annual network meeting in Africa.

More than 20% of all deaths worldwide are caused by bacterial infections and in LMICs the issue is particularly problematic, with bacterial infections killing approximately five million people annually.

The University of Birmingham-based BactiVac Network, which brings together over 890 members from the academic, industry and policy sectors across 70 countries, was launched in 2017 to address these challenges and is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Medical Research Council.

Professor Cal MacLennan, Director of the BactiVac Network, explained: “Vaccines are a cost-effective approach to prevent infectious disease and do save millions of lives each year, however, there are many bacterial infections without any licensed vaccine and we must work collaboratively with partners across the globe to rapidly change this.”

From 24-27 March 2020 in Kilifi, Kenya, the BactiVac Network will host its 3rd Annual Network Meeting, which is being partly funded thanks to a $100,000 award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The meeting will promote collaboration and understanding of the challenges faced in developing new vaccines and will include talks by internationally renowned speakers on a range of disciplines including the basic science underpinning vaccine development to commercial production and delivery.

Professor Cunningham, Co-Director of the BactiVac Network hosted in the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, and Institute of Microbiology and Infection, added: “We are committed to involving LMICs and there are many benefits to hosting our third annual network meeting in Kenya.

“It will highlight the strengths of LMIC-focused research to our membership and attendees will witness first-hand the facilities and environment from where research is translated into real vaccines to benefit local communities.

“We are thrilled to secure funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation for this event, which will ultimately enable us to bring more of our membership together in what will be a transformative event in the role that LMICs have in bacterial vaccine development.”

Dr Martin Broadstock, Programme Manager for Immunology and Vaccines at the Medical Research Council, said: “Our goal through the GCRF networks is to accelerate vaccine research and development. This additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help BactiVac enormously by encouraging enhanced collaborations between its members from across the globe."

Find out more