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Life Sciences Discovery Fund Awards $4.7 Million to Support New Vaccine Program

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 General News J E 4
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SEATTLE, Dec. 16 The Washington Life Sciences DiscoveryFund (LSDF) has awarded nearly $4.7 million to launch the start-up phase ofthe Washington Vaccine Alliance (WAVA) and to support initial research intothree new vaccines for E. coli, herpes and syphilis. Announced today, thegrant is funded by Washington's $350 million tobacco-lawsuit-settlement bonusand provides essential funding to bring this innovative new organization tolife.

WAVA core operations during the initial startup phase will operate withinthe Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute of Fred Hutchinson CancerResearch Center.

WAVA is a consortium of seven nonprofit-research institutions that isfocused on providing the necessary skills and infrastructure to develop, testand deploy new or improved vaccines for many of the world's most challengingdiseases. In addition to the Hutchinson Center, the consortium includesBattelle Pacific Northwest Division, Infectious Disease Research Institute(IDRI), PATH, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI), University ofWashington (UW), and Washington State University (WSU).

"This creative new consortium is a demonstration of the innovation anddetermination of the members to bring new vaccine solutions to world," saidHarlan Patterson, executive director of WAVA.

Scientists at WAVA organizations are collectively researching about adozen disease clusters that are potential candidates for vaccines and whichhave succeeded in winning major internationally focused research grants ininfectious diseases. The WAVA structure will allow the member organizations tomore effectively develop and share critical skills and facilities, help buildeconomic activity for vaccines in Washington, and position the organizationsto partner with commercial pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the finalvaccine development and deployment stages.

"WAVA represents a chance for the state of Washington to become aninternational center recognized for both research and vaccine development,"said Larry Corey, M.D., principal investigator of the LSDF-funded project andco-director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute at the HutchinsonCenter. "The successful development and deployment of even one vaccine willhave a significant impact on the health of the citizens and will provide avery cost-effective intervention to reduce overall health care costs."

The LSDF award provided critical funding to complete the first phases ofthree new vaccine projects and the ability to secure funding for the rest ofthe development process. The projects aim to:

-- Develop an E. coli vaccine for cattle (a joint effort of WSU, UW andthe University of Idaho). Researchers will test and identify the bestcandidate for a vaccine that would reduce the level of E. Coli O157 in cattleto a level that would prevent transmission to humans via meat or waste.

-- Develop a herpes vaccine (a joint effort of the Hutchinson Center, IDRIand UW). Researchers will test and select the most effective vaccineformulations for phase 1 clinical trials.

-- Develop a syphilis vaccine (a joint effort of UW, IDRI and theUniversity of Victoria). Researchers will test, evaluate and select the bestvaccine formulation to complete preclinical development and then test in phase1 clinical trials.

Initially, WAVA will create several core service centers that are criticalto bring vaccines to market: discovery, development, production anddeployment. These services will be extremely cost effective by takingadvantage of existing expertise and sharing these resources across the largerportfolio of vaccine projects. Member organizations will contract with eachother to speed the testing and development process. The service cores willeach have a lead organization and include vaccine economics (PATH), proteinexpression and purification (SBRI), formulation and early testing (IDRI),proteomics (Battelle), immune monitoring (Hutchinson Center and UW). TheHutchinson Center will also oversee informatics and clinical trials design andmanagement.

"Washington state has accumulated a critical mass of expertise in crucialareas necessary for the successful identification and development of vaccines.The creation of WAVA provides the catalyst to allow each member to create newprograms that build upon the substantial existing successes," said KingHolmes, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the UW Department of Global Health.

The portfolio of vaccine projects for WAVA covers major infectiousdiseases that await the development of effective and affordable vaccines.These include HIV, hepatitis C, influenza, diarrheal diseases (especially ofinfants and children), pneumonia of the elderly, sexually transmittedinfections (such as genital herpes, syphilis, and chlamydia), and the pandemicinfections of tuberculosis and malaria.

"The worldwide recognition of the potential for vaccines -- increased useof existing, improved and new -- creates the opportunity for the state ofWashington to contribute to an unprecedented reduction of the human andfinancial costs of some of our greatest health challenges," said Chris Elias,M.D., M.P.H., president and CEO of PATH.

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams ofworld-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnoseand treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, includingthree Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health,knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information,please visit fhcrc.org.

About the Life Sciences Discovery Fund

The Life Sciences Discovery Fund, a Washington State agency established inMay 2005, makes grant investments in innovative life sciences research tobenefit Washington and its citizens. For more information on the Life SciencesDiscovery Fund, visit: http://www.lsdfa.org.CONTACTS Dean Forbes Harlan Patterson (WAVA) 206-605-0311 206-434-1164 dforbes@fhcrc.org hpatters@fhcrc.org

SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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