Texas Children’s Hospital recently received a $1.9 million grant from The Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation to support Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), advancing the efforts to develop a vaccine against Chagas disease.
Chagas is a tropical disease caused by a parasite transmitted to people and animals through insects. The most impacted people are in the poorer areas of Latin America, and the Americas, including Texas. Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine are working together to find ways to eliminate this disease.
“Because of its link to poverty, new interventions for Chagas disease are not generally of great interest to the industry, so it falls to organizations like our Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development to take the lead on developing a vaccine,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, director of the CVD.
Hotez is a distinguished physician with a passion for tropical medicine. He took on this project alongside CVD Deputy Director Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi to insure that quality research and solid outcomes are developed when it comes to neglected tropical diseases.
“To tackle Chagas disease, the evaluation of novel and innovative technologies is an essential step. The support from the Kleberg Foundation will be transformational and will allow to accelerate the development of important control tools against this devastating disease,” Bottazzi said.
The Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation awards grants to institutions that further the vision of the Klebergs, such as improving quality of life through community support, innovation and scientific research.
“We are extremely grateful for our Kleberg Foundation funding, which will allow us to harness the innovative capacity of the Texas Medical Center in order to apply it towards the first vaccine for this devastating condition,” Hotez said.
The first steps have been taken in the vaccine development process, and the CVD hopes to advance the first vaccine candidate to final manufacture and clinical testing within the next few years.