GSK provides funding to IAVI to develop vaccines

To assist the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), GlaxoSmithKline has offered a $350,000 grant to be used for the benefit of the Human Vaccines Project.

The project is a joint partnership between the public and private sectors, with an eye on transforming global disease prevention by collectively addressing the most significant scientific challenges for vaccine development.

IAVI Chief Scientific Officer Wayne C. Koff is one of the founding members of the Human Vaccines Project Board and the one who made the GSK grant known at the AAAS's annual meeting in San Jose, Calif.

"For all that we have achieved with vaccines, there are still far too many diseases that we can't prevent and which have a devastating impact, particularly in the developing world," GSK Senior Vice President of Vaccines Research and Development Emmanuel Hanon said. "The more we can do – both individually and collectively – to overcome the current scientific challenges the better. We are very pleased to support the Human Vaccines Project and we encourage others to join us in this potentially ground-breaking initiative."

The GSK grant piggybacks on a grant last year to IAVI by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in order to further expedite the research and production of vaccines through the Human Vaccines Project. The initial workshop was held in February 2014: it highlighted the common problems with, and potential solutions to, vaccine creation.

Hoping to correct some of the common scientific obstacles surrounding vaccine development, the project's focus is to increase the success rates of vaccinations for common infections and cancers.

"Industry involvement will be key to the success of the Human Vaccines Project, and we are excited that GSK has become the first corporate partner of the project,” Koff said. “Their support will help to engage other pharmaceutical partners to join this important new initiative.”

Stanley Plotkin, an emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Human Vaccines Project's steering committee, sees this grant as exciting news.

"The Human Vaccines Project is driven by the rapid pace of technological advances in genomics, bioinformatics and structural and systems biology, and likely would not have been possible even five years ago,” Plotkin said. “It is a tremendously exciting time in vaccinology as we move toward preventing very challenging global killers such as AIDS, TB, malaria, Ebola, and cancers. Science and innovation will get us the vaccines we need.”