Beijing, China/Rockville, MD, USA-August 2, 2013 - With the global tuberculosis epidemic becoming more deadly, costly, and difficult to treat, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) and Aeras today signed a memorandum of understanding to advance research and development of new tuberculosis vaccines. An improved TB vaccine offers the best hope for eliminating this airborne infectious disease that kills 1.4 million people worldwide each year.
While China has achieved significant reductions in TB illness and death over the past 30 years, TB remains a major public threat, with over one million new cases in China each year. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year found that one in 10 cases of TB in China are resistant to the most commonly-used drugs. Based on the World Health Organization's estimates of global multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), China has the highest annual number of cases of MDR-TB in the world--a quarter of the cases worldwide.
The new collaboration between China CDC and Aeras will accelerate research efforts for new vaccines by supporting studies that determine the incidence of TB infection, and will aim to strengthen the capacity within China to conduct future vaccine clinical trials.
"Innovation is the key to controlling and ultimately eliminating this disease," said Dr. Wang Yu, China CDC Director General. "And we have embraced innovation in our TB control efforts in China. We have adopted the latest technologies to diagnose TB. We have advanced innovative approaches to address TB and drug-resistant TB, and to promote the research that is necessary to urgently develop needed new tools to prevent, diagnose and treat it. We have made TB a high priority on our public health agenda, and will continue to seek out new and better ways to prevent and treat TB in communities across our country. But we know that this will not be enough. We will not defeat TB in our country or in the world without new, more effective vaccines. There is a coordinated, global effort underway to develop these urgently needed vaccines, and China must be a partner in this endeavor. With that goal in mind, we are excited to announce a new collaboration with Aeras to advance the research and development of new, more effective vaccines."
China CDC is a nonprofit institution working in the fields of disease control and prevention, public health management and provision of services. Aeras is a nonprofit biotech based in Maryland, USA and Cape Town, South Africa, with the mission of advancing tuberculosis vaccines for the world. The meeting also marks the official opening by Aeras of an office in Beijing to facilitate and strengthen collaboration with Chinese researchers, partnerships that will be critical for developing tuberculosis vaccines for China and the world. Aeras supports half of the vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials, along with a portfolio of earlier stage candidates.
TB vaccine research and development requires dedicated investment and broad support to address scientific complexities and costs. No one organization or institution can do it alone, therefore global partnerships between individuals, research organizations, academic institutions, funders, policy-makers, and others are essential to advance TB vaccine science.
"Collaboration with Chinese researchers is crucial if we are going to defeat this global infectious disease killer," said Tom Evans, president & CEO of Aeras. "China has the technical expertise, resources and desire to develop effective vaccines against TB. Because of the high incidence of TB, the technical expertise, and a vaccine development infrastructure, China is perfectly poised to be at the forefront of global prevention efforts."
The global TB epidemic requires novel approaches, new tools and sufficient resources to mitigate what is now a more challenging and expensive disease to control than when the World Health Organization declared it a global emergency more than 20 years ago. The emergence of MDR-TB, now found in all countries surveyed worldwide, is confounding global efforts to halt the spread of TB and is putting an enormous economic burden on health systems globally. Alarmingly, new genetic research suggests that the bacterium could be poised to emerge stronger and more deadly than ever before, making it especially well-suited to spreading disease in a highly mobile and densely populated world.
"The ultimate game-changer in the battle to eliminate TB would be an improved vaccine that prevents children and adults from developing and transmitting disease," added Evans. The MOU was signed today during a meeting of global TB experts from the World Health Organization and other global leaders in TB research.
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Tuberculosis is the world's second deadliest infectious disease, with 8.7 million new cases in 2011. Current guidelines require a minimum of six to nine months of treatment. TB is changing and evolving, making new vaccines more crucial for controlling the epidemic. Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death for people living with HIV/AIDS. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) are hampering treatment and control efforts by making the disease more difficult to treat.
About Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) is a nonprofit institution working in the fields of disease control and prevention, public health management and provision of service. China CDC is committed to strengthening research on strategies and measures for disease control and prevention. China CDC organizes and implements control and prevention plans for different kinds of diseases; carries out public health management for food safety, occupational health, health related product safety, radiation health, environmental health, health care for women and children, among others; conducts applied scientific research; provides technical guidance, staff training and quality control for disease control and prevention and public health services throughout the country; and acts as a national working group for diseases prevention, emergency relief, and construction of public health information systems.
Aeras is a global nonprofit biotech advancing TB vaccines for the world. In collaboration with global partners in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe, Aeras is supporting the clinical testing of six experimental vaccines as well as a robust portfolio of earlier stage candidates. Aeras is based in Rockville, Maryland, Cape Town, South Africa, and Beijing, China.
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