The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $220 million to a non-profit research organization, Aeras, aimed at finding a more effective vaccine against tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis, which infects one of every three people on the planet, remains one of the world’s leading killers, is on the increase today and strains of the bacterium are becoming resistant to existing drugs. A news report by AFP on the announcement quotes Aeras president:
This infusion of funding must be seen as a global call to action in response to one of the world’s deadliest diseases,” said Jim Connolly, Aeras’s president and chief executive, expressing gratitude for the massive grant.
The Gates Foundation has long supported Aeras’ work on TB, which has several candidate vaccines in trial right now. This grant, the Maryland biotech firm, will provide about half the funding it needs to expand clinical trials of these vaccines
The new chief of the global health program at the philanthropy, Trevor Mundel, said in a statement accompanying the grant announcement that the development of successful vaccines “would be the single greatest advance in the global fight against TB.”
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 1.4 million died from TB in 2010 and about 9 million people fall ill every year.