Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development awarded grant to develop therapeutic vaccine for chagas disease

HOUSTON — The Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership (Sabin PDP) received a grant of $1.8 million from the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation. The grant will fund accelerated development of the first therapeutic vaccine for chagas disease in humans, in a development program under the directions of Drs. Peter Hotez, Texas Children’s endowed chair in Tropical Pediatrics, and Maria Elena Bottazzi, deputy director of Sabin PDP. For more information about Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development and the Sabin PDP, please visit the initiative’s website here.

“Chagas has become a serious health issue especially for the population of South Texas,” said Hotez. “Thanks to the support and confidence of the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, we will be able to speed the research and development needed to create a vaccine for Chagas.”

Chagas disease is considered one of the five neglected parasitic infections in the United States, with tens of thousands of cases in Texas alone. The disease is caused by parasitic microorganisms known as trypanosomes that can destroy heart tissue leading to a condition known as Chagasic cardiomyopathy. Insect vectors known as triatomines, or blood sucking bugs, which are widespread throughout Texas, transmit the trypanosome parasite.

Of those infected by chagas, 20 to 30 percent will develop chagastic cardiomyopathy, which can cause heart failure and sudden death. In addition, a large number of pregnant women are also infected with chagas disease causing thousands of cases of congenital infection. Chagas disease is also an important veterinary problem in Texas especially among dogs in South Texas. The successful development and testing of this therapeutic vaccine will be instrumental in order to improve thousands of lives and save Texans approximately $500 million in health care costs.

A primary focus of the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation is to improve quality of life in South Texas communities. Funding by the Foundation is competitive with a strict set of guidelines for determining if an institution will be awarded a grant. Being awarded funding demonstrates the Foundation’s belief that the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development will be successful in their research and development, and carry on the vision of Bob and Helen Kleberg in Texas.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.