Wellcome Trust Bets Big on a Promising TB Vaccine Candidate

More than 95 percent of tuberculosis (TB) deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. It is the leading worldwide killer of HIV-positive people and second only to HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death due to a “single infectious agent.” From an economic standpoint, tuberculosis is responsible for an estimated $1 billion in losses each year.  

The Wellcome Trust has been racing to find a viable vaccine candidate to prevent and treat TB for years. To achieve those ends, the trust recently awarded a $5.8 million (£3.8 million) grant to the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) to begin its Phase 2a trial of the vaccine candidate ID93 + GLA-SE that will take place in South Africa.

TB is a centuries-old disease that has become increasingly drug resistant over the years. Multi-drug resistant TB is an enormous global health problem for a number of reasons, not the least being that it threatens to set back global progress made toward prevention and treatment.

Researchers have also found that even after patients successfully complete their treatment programs, they contract the disease again. The Wellcome Trust’s grant to IDRI will help it advance clinical trials that have already shown promise in protecting patients against TB recurrence.

Related: Wellcome Trust is Helping Bring a Small but Powerful Tool to Last Mile Health

The trust isn’t the only global health group on board with IDRI’s vaccine candidate ID93 + GLA-SE. Funding for the potentially breakthrough vaccine has come from a number of different organizations including the National Institutes of Health, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Aeras.

Wellcome Trust is a big funder of medical and science innovations as they relate to human health and disease. The trust is also one of the largest U.K.-based funders supporting biomedical research projects around the world. Earlier this month, Wellcome Trust announced its plans to invest over $7.5 billion (£5 billion) over the next five years under a new strategic framework that names drug-resistant infection and vaccination as two of the its  four initial funding priorities.