Washington: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a grant of up to US $220 million over five years to Aeras, one of the world`s largest not-for-profit biotechs, developing modern vaccines to combat tuberculosis.
The grant to Rockville, Maryland based firm places it at the forefront of a global scientific initiative aimed at developing safe, effective vaccines against tuberculosis, a disease that infects two billion people worldwide.
The WHO estimates the global economic burden of TB at nearly $12 billion a year, with India and China together accounting for more than half the global economic toll.
"This infusion of funding must be seen as a global call to action in response to one of the world`s deadliest diseases... that hits hardest in the nations of Africa and Eastern Europe, and the emerging economic powerhouses of Asia," said Jim Connolly, President and CEO of Aeras.
"It will allow Aeras to expand upon existing partnerships in Europe, Africa, China, and around the world, and to build new partnerships that will accelerate the development of safe and effective vaccines," Connolly said.
Aeras estimates $400-500 million will be needed over the next five years if the organization is to accomplish critical TB vaccine development goals set jointly with global research and development partners.
This grant provides approximately half of the estimated cost of meeting 2012-2016 milestone targets, while addressing significant scientific questions that must be answered in order to further successful development of new vaccines.
"There is an urgent need for the global community to support the full range of tools to eliminate tuberculosis," said Trevor Mundel, President of the Global Health Programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.