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IBBR Awarded $6 Million NIH Grant for Structure-Based Design of a Hepatitis C Vaccine

Monday, June 12, 2017

News posted by PR Newswire

News provided by Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research

12 Jun, 2017, 10:25 ET

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 12, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- University of Maryland's Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) has been awarded a $6.0 million grant entitled, "Structure-Based Vaccine Design for Hepatitis C Virus," to develop a novel prophylactic vaccine to prevent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The grant is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the research will take place over a five-year period.  

There are currently no approved vaccines for HCV, a highly variable RNA virus that currently infects 185 million worldwide, adds 3-4 million new infections each year, and is associated with severe liver diseases and cancer. Moreover, HCV infection is responsible for more U.S. deaths than HIV and all other infectious diseases combined. Although FDA approved direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAAs) are available and shown to be safe and effective, access is limited due to the very high cost of treatment, and DAAs are largely unaffordable in developing nations. Furthermore, DAA treatment-induced cure does not prevent re-infection and other potential underlying medical conditions associated with a primary infection, making a prophylactic HCV vaccine an urgent, unmet medical need.


The lead principal investigator on this new NIH award is Thomas Fuerst, PhD, Director of IBBR, Professor, University of Maryland, Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, and head of IBBR's Structure-based Vaccine Design (SBVD) team. The SBVD team, working in conjunction with Steven Foung, MD, Professor of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, who also will serve as a principal investigator on this award, will be studying the efficacy of immune responses in animal models of its HCV vaccine candidates to determine which candidates will protect against the majority of HCV genotypes.

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