New Vaccine Discovery Initiative
Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership (Sabin PDP) announced the launch of a soil-transmitted helminth (STH) vaccine discovery program thanks to generous support from the Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D. Charitable Foundation, Inc. Based at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, the Sabin PDP will endeavor to advance lead candidate antigens for ascariasis (roundworm) and trichuriasis (whipworm) infections and incorporate them into existing hookworm and schistosomiasis vaccines currently being developed by the Sabin PDP to create a vaccine against all four major human helminth infections.
“I felt compelled to support efforts to develop a vaccine against the four most devastating parasitic worm infections because more than one billion innocent people, many of them small children, are unnecessarily plagued by these diseases,” explained Dr. Gary K. Michelson. “I hope that rigorous research, studies and testing conducted by the Sabin PDP, along with additional investments, will eventually lead to meaningful discoveries.”
Ascariasis, an infection of the small intestine, afflicts an estimated 800-900 million people and is a significant cause of acute intestinal obstruction in young children with high worm loads, leading to thousands of deaths annually. Trichuriasis, an infection of the large intestine, affects approximately 500 million people and is arguably the primary cause of inflammatory bowel disease in developing countries. These life-altering infections also significantly impede physical and cognitive growth in children.
“We are excited to add this momentous program to the Sabin PDP’s existing portfolio of neglected tropical disease (NTD) vaccines,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine. “This new initiative opens a potential way forward to alleviate the suffering of millions of people living in extreme poverty worldwide. A vaccine to prevent ascariasis and trichuriasis would be a significant public health advancement, particularly when co-formulated with hookworm and schistosomiasis antigens in a pan-anthelminthic vaccine.”
This new vaccine project will leverage the Sabin PDP’s programmatic and technical infrastructure to carry out discovery, preclinical evaluation, and early feasibility studies of Ascaris and Trichuris candidate antigens. Ultimately, one or both antigens selected for development could be added to the hookworm and schistosomiasis vaccines already under development by the Sabin PDP.
“We are deeply grateful for Dr. Michelson’s bold leadership and profound commitment to advancing essential scientific discovery work that will improve the lives of those most burdened by neglected tropical diseases,” added Dr. Hotez.