IDRI wins grant to develop TB vaccine adjuvant

The Seattle-based nonprofit Infectious Disease Research Institute recently received a $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop new vaccine adjuvants.

Adjuvants are added to vaccines in order to aid the body's immune system recognize threats from bacteria, viruses or other parasites.

IDRI Executive Vice President of External Affairs and Business Development Officer Erik Iverson said that the grant will be used predominantly to formulate adjuvants to boost tuberculosis vaccines. Iverson said that TB remains a major problem throughout the world, according to BizJournals.com.

Iverson added that current immunizations against TB do not remain effective past adolescence.

"There hasn't been a new vaccine for tuberculosis in 90 years," Iverson said, BizJournals.com reports.

The majority of TB cases remain dormant. Only a small number of those cases become active. In some cases, doctors can pinpoint a reason, but others remain a mystery, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. TB bacteria have become increasingly resistant to the drugs commonly used against them, and many believe the development of new and effective vaccine is critical for global public health.

In addition to TB, IDRI's work could also possibly be used to fight leishmaniasis, a common parasitic infection that is transmitted by flies in tropical regions. Iverson said it may also someday aid in the support of an HIV vaccine.