Wessex AHSN fuels research on infectious diseases
Wed 13th January 2016
Science Park-based Wessex Academic Health Science Network (Wessex AHSN) has provided funding, life sciences expertise and senior project management resources to two critical research projects designed to help tackle a future Ebola crisis and to combat life threatening meningitis.
In the first project, Professor Miles Carroll at Public Health England Porton Down, supported by Dr Tom Wilkinson and Professor Robert Read from the University of Southampton, was awarded over £24,000 by Wessex AHSN to facilitate the groundbreaking development and licensing of effective Ebola vaccines. The researchers aimed to determine the immune response in Ebola survivors to define measurable signs of immunity to assess experimental vaccines. Survivors are protected from re-infection, and the immune response shielding a survivor should also be able to protect a vaccinated person. Comparing both immune responses allows an estimation of the protective level achieved by experimental vaccines. Professor Carroll generated results that enabled him to successfully bid for a £2.1 million award from the United States Food & Drug Administration, an 84 fold return on investment. The journal Nature published Carroll et al’s related findings too, on 6 August 2015.
In the second project, Professor Robert Read at the University of Southampton, supported by Dr Jay Laver and Dr Andrew Gorringe from Public Health England, was awarded over £24,000 by Wessex AHSN for a 12 month study to generate data to support the development of a nasal vaccine to combat life threatening meningitis and/or septicaemia. Just halfway through the experimental programme, resulting data secured a £250,000 Medical Research Council award to carry out additional research, representing 10 fold leverage on the initial investment. Although vaccines to combat meningitis and septicaemia exist, the use of a novel probiotic vaccine could play a significant role in eliminating the pathogen from humans, eradicating the risk of epidemic.
Wessex AHSN has also supported the development of the Wessex Institute for Vaccines and Infectious Diseases (WIVID) which will bring together expertise and resources from across the region to work in partnership both nationally and internationally. In establishing a match funding partnership with the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Wiltshire Council, £2.3 million of inward investment has now been generated from the WIVID programme.