Gates Foundation funds UAntwerp research to eradicate polio

Summary

As the deadline for removal of the oral polio vaccine from the market comes ever closer, UAntwerp researchers are racing the clock to test a new vaccine – now with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

New vaccine

Through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is investing €3 million in research at Antwerp University (UA) to eradicate polio.

Polio is no longer seen in the Western world, but the infectious disease still causes deaths in developing countries. The vaccine against polio is widely available in those countries, thanks to Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO), but there are some occasional risks related to the current oral vaccine.

“In a very small number of cases, the vaccine can even lead to the development of the disease itself,” said professor Pierre Van Damme, head of UA’s Centre for Evaluation of Vaccination, in a statement. “New polio vaccines are needed to eradicate this infectious disease.”

The centre will use the funds to start up two studies using the current oral polio vaccine, which will form the basis for comparisons with a new vaccine. A promising new vaccine is being developed by an Indonesian pharmaceutical company and should be on the market by 2018. The UA centre will test the vaccine starting in 2017.

The Antwerp researchers have to act quickly because WHO has decided that the current polio vaccine must be taken out of use by next April. An intermediate version will be used while the researchers await the results of the vaccine studies.

UA is urgently looking for volunteers for the studies. Interested parties can email cev@uantwerpen.be or visit the website.

Photo courtesy UAntwerpen

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University of Antwerp

The University of Antwerp is Flanders’ youngest university, but it has quickly made a name for itself in natural and biomedical science research. It is the region’s third-largest university.
Merger - The university was born from the merger of three institutions with roots dating back to 1852.
Ranking - The university placed 13th in the World University Ranking “Top 50 Universities Under 50 years”.
Epidemiology - It was the first university in Flanders to offer a Master’s degree in epidemiology.
2 003

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13

percentage of international students

9

campuses across the city