Global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced the launch of a $1.8 million initiative to make vaccines more resistant to heat, reducing the need for refrigeration — a significant challenge in hot, remote, and resource-limited regions.
Through the initiative, part of a new Vaccine Discovery Partnership unveiled earlier this week at the foundation's Grand Challenges Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, GSK researchers will explore how to make adjuvants — a critical component of some vaccines — more stable in warm conditions, reducing the need for the so-called "cold chain." In one of the partnership's first projects, researchers will focus 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. The results also could have broader applications for all other vaccines that contain AS01, including those GSK is developing to fight HIV and tuberculosis.
"Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools to save and improve lives, and this partnership with GSK will help drive research and development efforts to overcome persistent global health challenges," said Trevor Mundel, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health program. "Reducing the dependence on the cold chain is critical to the affordable delivery of life-saving vaccines to the children who need them most."