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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made a $75 grant to PATH to develop low-cost vaccines for pneumococcal disease. As reported in the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

The goal of the PATH project is to explore a new approach that would stimulate immunity using basic proteins commonly found on the surface membranes of all pneumococcal serotypes.

"We will first want to identify the common proteins," [Dr. John Boslego, PATH's new chief of vaccine development] said. Once those are identified, he said, the hope is that these "protein vaccines" will be easily and inexpensively altered to match the specific strains of any given region.

Another way to reduce the cost of the vaccine, Boslego added, may be for PATH to help poor countries establish their own vaccine-manufacturing facilities rather than buy it from foreign drug makers.

"In that sense, this is working very far upstream, looking for new technologies that will help us find a vaccine that has the broadest coverage at the lowest possible cost," Boslego said.

The grant will be announced today at the 5th International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases in Alice Springs, Australia. Another Gates-funded organization, GAVI's PneumoADIP, works farther downstream to inform, generate and forecast demand for late-stage pneumococcal vaccines that are close to market.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.