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$6.9M NIAID Award to Fund Design, Testing of Hepatitis C Vaccine

Team Takes on Virus Behind Liver Disease in Tens of Millions Globally

By Nicole Tenly

Hepatitis C virus

A microscope image shows a patient's liver sample heavily damaged by active hepatitis. A University of Maryland-led team received $6.9 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to develop a vaccine to fight the virus that causes hepatitis C.

Photo by Shutterstock

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) awarded $6.9 million to researchers at the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) to design a vaccine to combat the virus that causes Hepatitis C (HCV), which affects an estimated 71 million people worldwide and puts them at risk for severe liver disease, including cancer.

This five-year award will support a multidisciplinary research team based at IBBR, a joint research enterprise of the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The researchers aim to develop a vaccine to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies and long-term memory T cell responses to help prevent HCV infection. This recent award follows a $6 million grant awarded to the IBBR research team in 2017 based on its significant progress in the field.

“The vaccine development team that was assembled at IBBR to take on this challenge has done a fantastic job over the past six years in moving this groundbreaking research program forward,” said Thomas Fuerst, program director, IBBR fellow and professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at UMCP. “This new grant allows us to keep building upon that success and to hopefully realize our ultimate goal of making a vaccine against HCV available to the public.”

IBBR’s mission is to harness the latest developments in science and engineering to provide solutions to complex medical and public health needs around the world, said Jennifer King Rice, senior vice president and provost at UMCP.

“This project is a wonderful example of the exciting and transformative research that is possible when we combine the world-leading expertise of faculty from both the College Park and Baltimore campuses,” she said.

The vaccine development team includes IBBR researchers from the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at UMCP, the School of Medicine at UMB and Princeton University.



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