From NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) received 22.8 million euros from the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to conduct a phase IIb clinical trial with IAVI’s Lassa fever vaccine candidate among adults and children in Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to a press release from the US Embassy in Nigeria. The vaccine candidate uses a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus vector that is now approved for use in eight African countries.
Scanning electron micrograph of the Lassa virus budding from a Vero cell.
Image / NIAID
This joint award supports an international collaboration in Africa, Europe and North America called “Lassa Fever Vaccine Efficacy and Prevention for West Africa” (LEAP4WA), which will also strengthen the research capacities of test centers where Lassa fever outbreaks and diseases occur frequently. The LEAP4WA consortium consists of the following members: IAVI Inc., USA; IAVI Stichting, Netherlands; Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, USA; Ministry of Health and Hygiene / Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone; Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Great Britain; University of Liberia, Liberia; Epicenter, France; and Henry M. Jackson Foundation Medical Research International Ltd / Gte (HJFMRI), Nigeria. In Nigeria, HJFMRI will conduct the study at its Clinical Research Center (CRC) supported by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
Nigeria Lassa fever cases over 300
Other supported WRAIR Lassa projects being carried out at the CRC and other locations across Nigeria include a Lassa incidence study in collaboration with the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), a Lassa seroprevalence study, and a potential opportunity for a CEPI-funded Phase IIa Lassa vaccine study through a WRAIR / IAVI collaboration.
When infected with the Lassa fever virus, patients have a high fever accompanied by bleeding, sore throat, vomiting, and body pain. The zoonotic virus, which spreads rapidly via body fluids, is transmitted to humans by an infected rat with several dams (Mastomys natalensis). The disease was first reported in the Lassa community in Borno state, Nigeria when two missionary sisters died of an unusual febrile illness. Since then, outbreaks have continued to be reported in Nigeria and the disease, which is becoming endemic to many parts of West Africa, is now being transported to overseas countries such as the US and the UK.
Despite these outbreaks, there is still no vaccine for Lassa fever. An estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Lassa fever cases are diagnosed annually, resulting in approximately 5,000 deaths. The World Health Organization has identified Lassa fever as one of the most common pathogens that is likely to cause major outbreaks in the near future. In 2018, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) reported the largest number of cases in Nigeria ever, with over 600 confirmed cases and over 170 deaths. As of May 2021, 14 states have registered at least one confirmed case and over 2,000 suspected cases this year, with most of the cases coming from the states of Edo and Ondo.
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