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IDRI Collaborates with the Brazilian Butantan Institute To Develop Novel Vaccines Against Leishmaniasis
Date:1/22/2009

SEATTLE, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) announced it has granted the Instituto Butantan, a Brazilian biomedical research institution, an exclusive license in Latin America and a non-exclusive license in the rest of the world to use two of IDRI's lead vaccine antigen candidates for the prevention and treatment of leishmaniasis in humans and dogs. IDRI will provide technical assistance to the Instituto Butantan for the development and evaluation of the candidate vaccines, and if the trials are successful, IDRI's manufacturing technology and know-how will be transferred to Brazil, where the vaccines will be produced. Under the agreement IDRI will receive royalty payments on future product sales that will assist IDRI's non-profit research and development activities. Further details on the financial terms were not disclosed.

Leishmaniasis is a widespread parasitic illness that has caused epidemics in India, Africa, Latin America and along the Mediterranean coast. Leishmania parasites are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected sandflies. Visceral leishmaniasis, the most severe form of the disease, causes fatal infections of internal organs, while the cutaneous form causes serious disfiguring skin lesions. About 500,000 new cases of visceral leishmaniasis occur each year, and 10% of these patients, who are mostly children, will die.

"For too long, the world has virtually ignored the dramatic burden of leishmaniasis on poor populations and limited efforts have been dedicated to the research of new tools against the disease. Today, we still don't have an effective vaccine to protect people and current treatments are either toxic, difficult to deliver, or prohibitively expensive," said Dr. Isaias Raw, President, Instituto Butantan, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

This agreement is the result of several years of collaborative research between IDRI and Instituto Butantan with the intention of designing a dual- phase public health program based on the parasite's biology, not only in humans, but also in dogs. In certain endemic areas such as Latin America, dogs can be heavily infected with Leishmaniasis and serve as an animal reservoir for human infection; scientists have observed that sandflies that feed on infected dogs can themselves become infected and then transmit the parasite to humans. Development of a vaccine for dogs could help break disease transmission to humans by decreasing the numbers of infected dogs.

In the first phase of the program, the Instituto Butantan will develop a preventive vaccine for dogs, followed shortly thereafter with a second phase examining the feasibility of developing a therapeutic vaccine for humans.

"IDRI has been working on Leishmaniasis vaccine development for more than 15 years. We have built a large portfolio of vaccine antigens that may be useful for both prevention and treatment of leishmaniasis," commented Steven Reed, Founder and Head of IDRI's Research and Development Program. "While we continue to work on our own vaccine candidates, we are delighted to provide two of our most advanced candidate antigens to a research institution with such a long track-record in vaccine development as the Instituto Butantan. It is critical that more players take action against leishmaniasis. Only by joining forces will we be able to defeat this challenging disease."

"We are excited to begin the evaluation of the vaccine candidate in dogs with the support of the Brazilian Development Bank. Our ultimate goal is to combine the leishmaniasis vaccine with routine rabies immunization and to vaccinate up to 40 millions of dogs in Brazil," added Dr. Raw. "This collaboration with IDRI brings the reality of effective leishmaniasis vaccines significantly closer."

About IDRI

IDRI is a Seattle-based not-for-profit organization committed to applying innovative science to the research and development of products to prevent, detect and treat infectious diseases of poverty. By integrating capabilities, IDRI strives to create an efficient pathway to bring scientific innovation from the lab to the people who need it most. For more information, go to http://www.idri.org.


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SOURCE Infectious Disease Research Institute
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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