Under the agreement, UCLA is providing Aeras with a non-exclusive license to develop and market UCLA's rBCG30 tuberculosis vaccine technology for use in the developing world. Aeras is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing new TB vaccines and distributing them to people in areas of the world hardest hit by the disease.
The new tuberculosis vaccine, a live recombinant vaccine named rBCG30, was developed in the course of research at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine by Dr. Marcus Horwitz and his team. The rBCG30 vaccine overexpresses the major protein secreted by the TB organism and uses the current TB vaccine, Bacille Calmette-Guerin, or BCG, as a delivery vehicle.
"Tuberculosis ranks among the world's most important diseases; yet it has received relatively little attention in the highly industrialized nations," said Dr. Horwitz, UCLA professor of medicine and microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. "I am pleased that through this agreement, efforts will be made to continue the development of a vaccine that has the potential to reduce substantially the enormous burden of tuberculosis in the developing world. I am grateful to Aeras and its principal benefactor, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for supporting the development of this vaccine."
Each year 8 million people develop new cases of TB, and 2 million people die of the disease – nearly all of them in the developing world. The current TB vaccine used throughout most of the world, BCG, is almost a century old and has limited efficacy. In conjunction with drug therapy, a more effective vaccine would greatly reduce the TB disease burden around the world.
"A new TB vaccine is widely considered among the most achievable new tools to improve global public health," said Dr. Jerald Sadoff, President & CEO of Aeras. "Science offers us the possibility to finally defeat one of humanity's great plagues."
First developed and tested in TB-susceptible guinea pigs, rBCG30 was found to be more potent than the commercially available BCG vaccine. In initial clinical studies of the vaccine's safety, no serious adverse events occurred in human volunteers. Funding for the research at UCLA was provided primarily by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
About Aeras: The Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation (www.aeras.org) is a nonprofit organization working through public-private partnerships to develop new tuberculosis vaccines and ensure that they are distributed to all who need them around the world. Aeras is led by Dr. Jerald C. Sadoff, who oversaw licensing of five vaccines commercially and worked on research and development of numerous other vaccine candidates while at Merck and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
About UCLA: The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (http://www.medsch.ucla.edu/) has more than 2,000 faculty including world-renowned experts in clinical practice and scientific research. Many have earned coveted awards such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize and National Medal of Science. A relative youngster amongst its peers, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has emerged as an educational leader, attracting a superb faculty and outstanding students. It ranks in the top 10 U.S. medical schools to receive National Institutes of Health funding.