Texas Children’s Hospital receives grant to continue developing a vaccine for Chagas disease

HOUSTON, TX – Jan. 22, 2018 – Texas Children’s Hospital is excited to announce it received a $1.9 million grant from The Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation to support Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), advancing the efforts to develop a therapeutic vaccine against Chagas disease.

Chagas, a tropical parasitic disease spread mostly by small insects, continues to be a serious threat to people around the world. The most critically impacted people are in poorer areas of Latin America, and even here in Texas. Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine are making a concerted effort to eliminate this disease.

“We are thankful for the ongoing support we’ve received from The Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation. It has allowed us to make great strides towards developing a vaccine,” said Hotez, who serves as the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor, as well as director of Texas Children’s CVD and Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics. “Chagas disease is common in impoverished areas of Latin America, and those who have it sometimes don’t even realize they are sick. A vaccine would save many lives.”

Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, the center’s co-director, echoed that “the fact there is significant transmission of Chagas disease in Texas, means the vaccine would also benefit a generation of Texans.” Co-investigator Dr. Ulrich Strych pointed out “this would represent one of the first new significant therapeutic developments for this disease.”

This grant will allow Hotez and Texas Children’s CVD team to further accelerate the Chagas disease vaccine development program by advancing the first therapeutic vaccine to stop the progression of the disease and benefit millions of people living in poor conditions who are defenseless against it.

Hotez is a distinguished physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases. In 2006, at the Clinton Global Initiative, he co-founded the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases which provides access to essential medicines for hundreds of millions of people. He was also named one of Fortune Magazine’s “34 Leaders Who Are Changing Healthcare” last year.

Texas Children’s CVD is a Product Development Partnership dedicated to the discovery and development of vaccines against neglected tropical diseases and other emerging infectious diseases. In addition to Chagas, Texas Children’s CVD is leading efforts to develop new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis and SARS/MERS. To learn more, visit https://www.texaschildrens.org/departments/vaccine-development.

Rick King

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