The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Gates Foundation Commits Nearly US$70 Million to Help Fight Neglected Tropical Diseases

    Seattle (ots/PRNewswire) -

    - Four Grants Support Development of Vaccines and Better Drugs, and  Launch of New Medical Journal

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced four grants totaling US$68.2 million to help accelerate research on neglected tropical diseases, including hookworm, leishmaniasis, and trypanosomiasis, which kill or disable millions of people in the world's poorest countries every year. One of the grants will support a new medical journal devoted to neglected diseases.

    "Many of the world's most debilitating illnesses are virtually unheard of in the rich world. But they're a fact of life for millions of people in poor countries," said Tachi Yamada, President of the Global Health Program at the Gates Foundation. "We hope our investment in solutions for these problems will spur other donors, governments, and researchers to take action, so that we can see the day when 'neglected' no longer applies to these diseases."

    Diseases such as hookworm, leishmaniasis, and trypanosomiasis are transmitted by parasites and worms and affect hundreds of millions of people every year in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In addition to causing death or lifelong disfigurement, they can stunt children's growth and mental development.

    No vaccines exist to prevent most of these diseases, and the limited drugs that are available often can be expensive, have serious side effects, or are becoming less effective due to growing drug resistance. Yet there are important scientific opportunities to develop better vaccines and new drugs. The four grants today include the following:

@@start.t1@@      - Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), to develop a vaccine to
         treat leishmaniasis -- US$32 million: IDRI will develop a new
         therapeutic vaccine to safely and affordably treat leishmaniasis, a
         debilitating, and often fatal, parasitic disease that affects more than
         12 million people in developing countries. Existing treatments for
         leishmaniasis require a long course of toxic, painful, and expensive
         injections. The grant supports a six-year program to develop the
         vaccine and conduct clinical trials in India, Sudan, and Brazil,
         countries where leishmaniasis is common.
      - Sabin Vaccine Institute (SVI), to develop a vaccine for hookworm --
         US$13.8 million: SVI will develop a vaccine to prevent hookworm, which
         affects more than 600 million people worldwide and is a leading cause
         of anemia and malnutrition among children and women of reproductive age
         in many developing countries. The only method currently available to
         control hookworm is repeated drug treatment, which can lead to drug
         resistance. The grant supports the Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative,
         an initiative of the SVI that partners with other research institutions
         in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Brazil.
      - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), to develop drugs to
         treat trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis -- US$21.3 million: UNC will
         work to develop effective, inexpensive drugs to treat the late stages
         of leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis. Trypanosomiasis, or "sleeping
         sickness," kills 300,000 people every year in sub-Saharan Africa, and
         65 million people are at risk of becoming infected. Current treatments
         are expensive, difficult to administer, and often toxic or ineffective.
         UNC will lead a consortium of researchers from the U.S., Europe, and
         Kenya to develop new and better drugs for the two diseases.
      - Public Library of Science (PLoS), to launch a new medical journal on
         neglected diseases -- US$1.1 million: PLoS will launch PLoS Neglected
         Tropical Diseases, a new open-access, peer-reviewed medical journal
         covering science, policy, and advocacy on neglected tropical diseases.
         While other medical journals have increased their attention to
         neglected diseases in recent years, few journals focus on the topic.
         The new journal will provide an important forum for scientists from
         developed and developing countries to share the latest information on
         neglected disease research.@@end@@

    "While medical science has advanced at breakneck speed over the past century, research on most tropical diseases has languished, overlooked by many scientists and most funders. I hope that these grants will help spark a new era of accelerated research on neglected tropical diseases," said Dr. Peter Hotez, Principal Scientist of SVI's Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative and Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Diseases at George Washington University. Dr. Hotez will speak on neglected diseases at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City on September 21.

    Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to reduce inequities and improve lives around the world. In developing countries, it focuses on improving health, reducing extreme poverty, and increasing access to technology in public libraries. In the United States, the foundation seeks to ensure that all people have access to a great education and to technology in public libraries. In its local region, it focuses on improving the lives of low-income families. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by Chief Executive Patty Stonesifer and Co-Chairs William H. Gates Sr., Bill Gates, and Melinda French Gates.

      On the Internet:
      Infectious Disease Research Institute:
      Sabin Vaccine Institute:
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
      PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases:
      Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
      Web site:

ots Originaltext: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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Deborah Lacy of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, +1-206-709-3400,

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