American Leprosy Missions Gathers Experts from Around the World for Leprosy Vaccine Summit at Emory University
In late October 2011, more than 20 scientists and global health experts gathered at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health to discuss the current leprosy vaccine research and determine the best way to move forward.
Moderated by Dr. Mark Rosenberg, President and CEO of the Task Force for Global Health, the two-day summit began with an overview of the visionary work of American Leprosy Missions in launching the global research into a leprosy vaccine a decade ago. The continued support of ALM donors, partner agencies and foundations, particularly the P.S. & Ouida C. Bailey Foundation, has enabled scientists to make significant progress toward a viable leprosy vaccine. Through a partnership with the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle, the vaccine has reached the final six to nine months of product development. Dr. Steven Reed, Founder and Head of Research & Development at IDRI, says, “The collaboration between IDRI and ALM has resulted in the identification of strong vaccine candidates, with human studies targeted for 2012. IDRI is committed to working closely with ALM and other partners to make a leprosy vaccine a reality.”
This quality work has laid a solid foundation for moving forward with a leprosy vaccine. “There is no doubt that an effective vaccine could make the most important impact on leprosy incidence”, says Dr. Etienne Declercq, Medical Advisor, Damien Foundation Belgium. “The vaccine project could change the nature of leprosy control and significantly reduce transmission.”
The next step in developing a leprosy vaccine will be Phase I safety studies lasting three to four years, followed by clinical trials. Due to the cost and timeline of Phase II and III clinical trials, ALM will spearhead a worldwide coalition committed to vaccine development and funding. Dr. Rosenberg says, “ALM is very well positioned to use its prestige to convene multiple stakeholders through expert meetings like this one, in order to build coalitions and forge consensus on a wide range of issues.”
“ALM remains committed to leprosy vaccine research,” says Bill Simmons, President and CEO of American Leprosy Missions. “We look forward to continuing our leadership role in leprosy research as we look toward building a broad coalition to move the vaccine forward.”
About American Leprosy Missions
American Leprosy Missions, based in Greenville, South Carolina, is the oldest and largest Christian organization in the United States dedicated to curing and caring for people affected by leprosy and related conditions. ALM currently operates in 15 countries in Africa, Asia and South America. During its more than 100-year history, ALM has provided holistic care to 4 million people around the world including medical treatment and training, Christian outreach, prevention of disability, community development, education assistance and vaccine research.
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