Awarded through the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges program, the five-year grant will support the Ultra-Low Cost Transferable Automated (ULTRA) Platform for Vaccine Manufacture initiative, a partnership between KU, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University College London that hopes to standardize the development of new recombinant protein vaccines and eventually produce them for less than fifteen cents per dose. Among other things, the grant will enable the team to demonstrate the applicability of the platform with vaccine candidates targeting diseases such as hepatitis B, HIV, human papillomavirus, malaria, and rotavirus.
The team will be led by KU professor David Volkin and Sangeeta Joshi, director of the Macromolecule and Vaccine Stabilization Center, and will work with academic partners led by J. Christopher Love at MIT’s Koch Institute and Tarit Mukhopadhyay of the UCL Biochemical Engineering Department. If the approach is successful, vaccine supplies for phase-one human clinical trials will be in production by the end of the five-year period.
"To make vaccines more affordable and available, new manufacturing approaches are needed," said Volkin. "A key part of this effort is to ensure that vaccines remain stable during manufacturing, storage, transport, and administration to people in the developing world."