In addition to the ongoing work of the UK Vaccine Network, the MRC and BBSRC announced a call for ‘Networks in Vaccine R&D’ in late 2016. This call addressed the early stages of the vaccine pipeline and aimed to support research communities to engage in innovative and collaborative research to address key bottlenecks in preclinical and discovery R&D. This call forms part of the MRC and BBSRC’s activities under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and therefore requires Networks to address vaccine R&D challenges primarily relevant to the health or prosperity of low and middle-income countries (LMICs) on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development list. As a result of this call, five Networks (including IMPRINT) were awarded at a total of £9.4 million. These Networks encompass a wide range of topics in vaccinology: intracellular pathogens, veterinary vaccinology, human challenge models, pregnant women & neonatal immunization, and bacterial vaccinology. The Networks will provide workshops and training activities for Network members as well as regularly issue small scale pump-priming grants. Each Network is open to new members to join, with further details available on their websites.More information on the rationale behind the new Vaccine Networks and what they hope to achieve through this new initiative can be found in this article, written by Martin Broadstock from the Medical Research Council, published in the November issue of Immunology News.
The VALIDATE Network based at the University of Oxford aims to promote vaccine R&D for complex intracellular pathogens that cause significant disease burden in LMICs. The initial focus is on Mycobacterium tuberculosis (which causes TB), Leishmania species (leishmaniasis), Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis) and Mycobacterium leprae (leprosy). The Network is creating an engaged and interactive community of researchers who are forming new cross-pathogen, cross-continent, cross-species and cross-discipline collaborations, generating new ideas, taking advantage of synergies and quickly disseminating lessons learned across the Network, with the aim of together making significant progress towards vaccines against the focus pathogens. Key interests are in-vivo research, cross-pathogen studies, projects promoting the One Health agenda, and collaborative projects involving LMICs and Early Career researchers.
The International Veterinary Vaccinology Network, based at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, is a multidisciplinary community passionate about developing vaccines to improve animal and human health. The Network will facilitate the formation of international collaborations to improve vaccine design and development for livestock and zoonotic diseases in LMICs. Furthermore, the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network will bring together researchers from across the fields of veterinary and human vaccinology, irrespective of pathogen or species of interest, with the aim of addressing key bottlenecks that are preventing vaccine development for important pathogens of livestock in LMICs.
The Human Challenge Model Network, based at Imperial College London aims to support, develop and advocate for human infection challenge studies (HIC) to accelerate the development of vaccines against pathogens of high global impact.
The Bacterial Vaccines (BactiVac) Network, based at the University of Birmingham will accelerate the development of vaccines against bacterial infections, particularly those relevant to LMICs. The BactiVac Network will bring together academic, industrial and other partners involved in vaccine research against human and animal bacterial infections from the UK and LMICs. The Network will foster partnership and provide catalyst project and training funding to encourage cross-collaboration between academic and industrial partners.