$258 million for malaria treatment, prevention
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is stepping up the fight against malaria with $258.3 million in research grants, the largest amount...
Seattle Times business reporter
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is stepping up the fight against malaria with $258.3 million in research grants, the largest amount going to Seattle-based PATH to develop what could be the world's first malaria vaccine.
The Gates Foundation said Sunday it is funding three major grants to advance efforts to prevent and treat the disease, which kills an estimated 2,000 African children a day.
"For far too long, malaria has been a forgotten epidemic," said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, co-founder of the Gates Foundation. He called it "a disgrace that the world has allowed malaria deaths to double in the last 20 years."
The Seattle-based Gates Foundation, the largest philanthropic foundation in the world, will soon outpace the U.S. government in funding for malaria research, contributing one-third of the world's annual budget. Yet that amount, roughly $375 million a year, is just a quarter of the amount that men in wealthy countries spend each year on Viagra, according to The Washington Post.
Over the next five years, the grants will go toward developing a vaccine, new drugs and insecticides to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
The largest grant, for $107.6 million, was awarded to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) to work with Belgium-based GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals to complete testing and licensing of the most advanced malaria-vaccine candidate.
PATH, or Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, is an international nonprofit organization focused on health solutions for developing countries.
Dr. Melinda Moree, who directs the malaria initiative at PATH, called the funding "unprecedented." It is PATH's largest grant ever and unusual in that it is directed to one particular project, she said.
"There are a lot of public-private partnerships out there," Moree said. "This is the first one partnering with a large pharmaceutical company to take a product through to licensing and use. It really means we're meeting with success."
Malaria causes more than 1 million deaths worldwide per year, Moree said.
A trial last year in Mozambique found that the vaccine reduced severe malaria by 58 percent in children ages 1 to 4. The new grant will fund two phases of trials in six African countries to test the vaccine in young children and infants to determine if it is safe when given with other childhood vaccines.
The Gates Foundation also awarded $100 million to the Geneva-based Medicines for Malaria Venture to work with public and private partners to accelerate development of several promising new drugs.
It also gave $50.7 million to the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC), led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, to develop improved insecticides and other mosquito-control methods.
Kristi Heim: 206-464-2718 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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