Consortium to conduct first hookworm vaccine test in sub-Saharan Africa

The HOOKVAC consortium, a global consortium led by the University of Amsterdam's Academic Medical Center, recently announced an $8.16 million grant to develop and test a vaccine for human hookworm.

The grant from the European Commission FP7 program will expand the work of the Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership to begin the first clinical testing of human hookworm vaccine in the West African nation of Gabon.

"The importance of developing a vaccine for hookworm cannot be overstated," Ayola Akim Adegnika, the co-director of the Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon, said. "This is a devastating disease in Gabon. We are proud to take part in the launch of clinical testing in Gabon. The HOOKVAC consortium is paving the way for an advancement that could greatly improve people's health, stimulate economic growth and give rise to other tools to control and eliminate parasitic diseases in Africa and around the world."

The HOOKVAC consortium, which includes partners from Africa, the European Union and the U.S., will conduct Phase I studies to test two previously identified lead candidate antigens in African adults and children.

Hookworm infects 600 million to 700 million of the world's poorest people, particularly pregnant women and children in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. When left untreated, hookworm can cause internal blood loss, iron-deficiency anemia, malnutrition, physical and cognitive impairment and low birth weight.

"The Sabin PDP is excited to join with new partners from the European Union and Gabon to advance the development of a human hookworm vaccine," Peter Hotez, the director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, said. "By sharing the Sabin PDP's unique expertise in developing vaccines for (neglected tropical diseases) with the HOOKVAC consortium, we intend to expand global knowledge of NTDs as well as benefit from the expertise of our new European and African partners to identify cutting edge ways to reduce the global burden of diseases affecting the world's poorest people."