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No Canine Rabies, No Canine Babies: Smaller Exposure Risks to Both Children and Adults

11/20/13

Thomas Jefferson University Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

(Philadelphia) – Thomas Jefferson University announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Milosz Faber, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the department of Microbiology and Immunology will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled "Development of a single dose contraceptive rabies vaccine."

Rabies has become a seriously neglected disease in the developing world. It causes globally an estimated 70,000 human deaths and 15 million people, of which 40 percent are children, undergo rabies post-exposure prophylaxis each year. Domestic dogs, which are found in high densities in several continents and often associated with rabies, are responsible for more than 95percent of the human rabies cases world-wide. Therefore, the most effective way to control of human rabies would be the eradication of dog rabies. However, since most of the dogs in developing countries are free-ranging, elimination of dog rabies can only be achieved through a combination of vaccination and population control programs. The aim of this project is to develop a cost-effective and safe contraceptive rabies vaccine formulation that would accomplish both objectives with a single dose.

The vaccine will be based on recently developed non-pathogenic rabies variant TriGAS which targets dendritic cells and thereby strongly induces a strong and sustained immune response not only to rabies virus but also to foreign antigen such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The novel vaccine formulation resulting from the studies on this project will induce, after a single inoculation, both long-term protective immunity against rabies and infertility without causing adverse effects.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how persistent global health and development challenges are solved. Dr. Faber's project is one of more than 80 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 11 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Dr. Faber and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 11 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included development of the next generation condom, agriculture development, and neglected tropical diseases.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 850 people in more than 50 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.

For more information, contact Edyta Zielinska, (215) 955-5291, Edyta.Zielinska@jefferson.edu.