CEPI provides nearly $1 million additional to icddr,b study of Nipah virus survivors

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With an eye on potential vaccine development, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced this week that it will expand its partnership with Bangladesh’s icddr,b for a study into survivors of the deadly Nipah virus.

This support will take the form of nearly $1 million in additional funding. More than 50 survivors of Nipah are currently scheduled to participate in the research trial, which will characterize the immune responses generated against the virus. Researchers will use this to investigate how immunity changes over time, which could ultimately aid the development of tools such as diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Such data could likewise be combined with that provided by a similar study in Malaysia to compare and contrast what may have been different strains of the virus.

The focus on Bangladesh is not incidental. Outbreaks of Nipah are an annual occurrence there.

“As the ongoing COVID-19 crisis shows, those who have tested positive for potentially deadly diseases can provide tremendous information to advance our understanding of how a virus operates and how the body responds to infection,” Melanie Saville, director of Vaccine Research and Development for CEPI, said. She added, “This new study with Bangladesh’s world-leading scientific institution icddr,b will provide a wealth of important data and material to advance the development of much-needed Nipah vaccines and potentially support their future licensure.”

Biological material from survivors in this study will be donated and used for the development of key research tools like assays and antibody standards, which will be needed for Phase 2 clinical trials of Nipah vaccines. Such an advancement is currently scheduled to begin later this year.

To date, CEPI has invested up to $100 million in four potential Nipah vaccine candidates from Auro Vaccines and PATH, Public Health Vaccines, the University of Tokyo, and the University of Oxford. Its latest investment in icddr,b will include support for building local lab capacity in Bangladesh that will help prepare for further clinical trials and new outbreaks of Nipah alike.

“ICDDR,B has over five decades of experience in vaccine research and contributed to the development and license of many vaccines, including cholera, typhoid, rotavirus, measles, polio, pneumonia, dengue, HPV among others,” Dr. Tahmeed Ahmed, senior director of Nutrition & Clinical Services Division of icddr,b, said. “In partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, we are running the world’s longest Nipah virus surveillance to detect the early stage of spillover, understanding the disease aetiology and transmission dynamics, and finding out ways to prevent infection. We are extremely delighted to be a part of this great initiative of generating new knowledge and evidence that would lead to the development of a vaccine against the disease of pandemic potential and save lives.”

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