News Release

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research receives project funding from Gates Foundation

Innovative nanoparticles release vaccine through perspiration

Grant and Award Announcement

Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) has received a grant through the current round of the funding programme "Grand Challenges Explorations" of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The programme is supporting a global health project for development of nanoparticles that release the vaccine active ingredients through the skin upon contact with perspiration. The Braunschweig Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) is implementing the research project POLMITRANSVAC (Pollen Mimetic Transcutaneous Vaccination) in cooperation with the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarbrücken (HIPS). Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million US in a second phase.

"We are linking for the first time our expertise at the HZI in the development of vaccines with multi-year experience regarding the formulation of active ingredients in nanoparticles, which the scientists at HIPS in Saarbrücken have available", say the scientists Carlos Alberto Guzmán from the HZI, Claus-Michael Lehr and Steffi Hansen from HIPS, as well as Ulrich Schäfer from the Saarland University.

"The novel concept in our method is the pathway through which the vaccine is administered. The nanoparticles penetrate via the hair follicles into the skin, then come into contact with human perspiration and release the active vaccine ingredients, mimicking what normally occurs during pollen sensitization. This method of vaccination by-passes the traditional and more painful needle-based vaccines and has the potential to stimulate mucosal immune responses.

The research project of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research is one of 78 research projects which are being funded by the Gates Foundation in the fourth round of "Grand Challenges Explorations". The initiative is intended to support worldwide researchers and strategies for diagnosis and avoidance of infectious diseases, and to develop improvements in family health. The selection process took into consideration 2,700 applications that had been submitted. Overall, the Foundation research projects support 19 countries on six continents.

"Grand Challenges Explorations continues to generate unique and creative ideas aimed at tackling global health issues" explained Tachi Yamada, president of the World Health Programme of the Gates Foundation. "We are convinced that a few of these ideas can and will lead to new innovations and ultimately to new solutions that will save lives."


About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year initiative endowed with more than $100 million US, which funds innovations in the area of world health. It is a part of the "Grand Challenges in Global Health" Initiative, which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in order to facilitate important improvements in global health matters. Grand Challenges Exploration is still accepting applications until 19 May 2010 for the next round. The complete explanation of requirements for the application, including the list of thematic areas for which applications are currently being accepted, can be found at the website:

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