GSK and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aim to make vaccines more resistant to heat


They join forces in a US$1.8m project on how to make adjuvants more heat stable

GSK and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have joined forces in a US$1.8m project that aims to bring malaria and HIV drugs to those living in the hottest and poorest regions by making vaccines more resistant to heat.

Most vaccines must be kept cold and transported under constant refrigeration through a ‘cold chain’ to prevent them from degrading and becoming ineffective. This is a significant challenge in hot, remote, poor regions, GSK says.

The new project, which is part of a broader Vaccine Discovery Partnership (VxDP), will focus on how to make adjuvants – a critical component of some vaccines – more heat stable.

\'Developing a thermostable adjuvant is an important and ambitious goal. This partnership is the starting point for research into an exciting area of biomedical technology that has the potential to overcome a significant and long-standing barrier to vaccine access in developing countries,\' said Emmanuel Hanon, Senior Vice President, Vaccine Discovery and Development at GSK.

Reducing the dependence on the cold chain is critical to the affordable delivery of life-saving vaccines to the children who need them most

The new project will focus initially on the adjuvant AS01, which is used in GSK’s RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate, currently in late-stage development in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. RTS,S has been designed for use in infants and children from sub-Saharan Africa, where maintaining vaccines at an optimum temperature can be challenging. Developing a method of making AS01 more heat stable could bring a significant public health benefit. The results could also have broader applications for all other AS01-containing vaccines, including vaccines in development by GSK against HIV and tuberculosis.

\'Reducing the dependence on the cold chain is critical to the affordable delivery of life-saving vaccines to the children who need them most,\' said Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Despite significant progress over the last decade, over 22 million children in developing nations remain without access to life-saving vaccines.

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The VxDP, instigated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to integrate key players in vaccine development – biotechnology institutions, pharmaceutical companies, non-government organisations (NGOs) and academia – to drive advances in vaccine research and development that have the potential to transform global health. Projects funded through the VxDP will look to solve some of the world’s most intractable health problems, including barriers to vaccine access.