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Accelerating R&D

Cluster projects

To reduce the time frame for clinical testing of new vaccines and drugs targeting the major communicable diseases, the European Commission is promoting ‘cluster projects’, whereby teams involved in parallel or successive steps of the R&D process can co-ordinate their efforts. Collaboration with industry is also encouraged across the Member States.

One such example is Eurovac, the ‘European Vaccine effort against AIDS’ cluster. Eurovac aims to bring preventive HIV vaccines into Phase I clinical trials. Twenty-one laboratories in eight EU Member States are participating in the cluster, which includes four projects on developing and improving vaccines and vaccine strategies, one on producing vaccine batches, one for trials on primates, and one for clinical trials in humans. Trial data direct vaccine development and improvement, which feed back into batch production and trials in primates and humans.


Vaccines on trial

The European Malaria Vaccine Initiative (EMVI) aims to accelerate the development and testing of antimalarial vaccines. Clinical testing of the first EMVI-supported malaria vaccine began in January 2001, and trials for a second should start in mid-2001, while new trials in Africa are planned for 2002. In a concerted effort to combat this deadly disease, three vaccine development donors have recently joined forces against malaria, which currently kills at least one child every 30 seconds. On 22 June 2001, EMVI, USAID’s Malaria Vaccine Development Program (MVDP) and the Gates-funded Malaria Vaccine Initiative agreed a strategy to facilitate malaria vaccine development from testing and manufacturing vaccine candidates to ensuring their accessibility and affordability in developing countries.


Tuberculosis Prevention Cluster

This cluster, which involves 15 partners in seven countries, aims to fuel strategies for the optimal use of existing anti-TB drugs through a better understanding of drug resistance mechanisms, and to identify novel targets for drugs against TB-causing bacteria.


Communicable Diseases