The Health Sciences Center at Texas Tech University has announced a two-year, $2.85 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of efforts to develop an effective vaccine for schistosomiasis.
The grant will fund a proof-of-concept trial for a vaccine developed by Afzal A. Siddiqui, a Grover E. Murray Distinguished Professor at the TTUHSC School of Medicine. A parasitic disease that is contracted through contact with contaminated water, schistosomiasis currently affects more than two hundred million people in developing countries, while another eight hundred million are at risk of infection. In seventy-four countries where the disease is endemic, infection rates continue to rise despite mass treatment with drugs; long-term reductions in infection rates can be achieved only through vaccination.
Siddiqui, who also serves as the director of the TTUHSC Center of Tropical Medicine & Infectious Diseases, collaborated on the vaccine with researchers at the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle.
"Dr. Siddiqui's approach is to develop a vaccine that resolves the pathology," said TTUHSC president Tedd L. Mitchell. "This vaccine is intended to prevent infections as well as treat existing infection and has the potential to impact the lives of one billion people."