Seattle: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced $280 million (Rs1120 crore) in grants to speed up development of TB vaccines and diagnostic tests and anti-TB drugs. The funds are specifically dedicated to supporting the priorities of the Global Plan to Stop TB (2006-2015).
The grants focus on three areas:
• Vaccine development: $200 million over five years to the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation to conduct clinical trials of up to six TB vaccine candidates.
• Diagnostics: $62 million over five years to the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) to develop TB tests that are more accurate and simpler to use.
• Drug discovery: Nine grants totalling $18 million to identify new TB treatments to combat drug resistance. Grant recipients in this category include the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Colorado State University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Johns Hopkins University, Ordway Research Institute, Northeastern University and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
Dr Marcos Espinal, executive secretary of the ‘Stop TB Partnership’, noted that TB is a major threat, and stopping it must be a top global priority. “We have an achievable action plan to reduce the TB burden, and it is encouraging to see new resources going to Stop TB partners to support this plan,” he said.