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The Valley Fever Center for Excellence (VFCE) at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson has been awarded a four-year, $4.8 million grant for research to speed development of a vaccine to combat Valley fever, the sometimes deadly respiratory illness caused by Coccidioides spores found in soils of the U.S. Southwest. The funding comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a unit of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and aims to enable development of a live, yet safe, vaccine to prevent this fungal disease.
“We are very excited to receive this award,” said John N. Galgiani, MD, principal investigator on the project, a UA professor of medicine and the center’s founding and current director. “This reflects the scientific validity of our plans and the funds will greatly accelerate the vaccine’s development.”
The vaccine candidate is known as delta-CPS1 and was invented at the UA. The research goal is to test and possibly license this vaccine in dogs to protect them from contracting Valley fever. Anivive Lifesciences Inc., a California-based biotechnology company, has licensed the vaccine from the UA through Tech Launch Arizona and will provide additional investment and expertise to fully develop this dog vaccine. Tech Launch is the UA’s commercialization arm, helping transform UA innovations and discoveries into intellectual property, inventions and technology through licensing agreements with private industry. The UA BIO5 Institute also has assisted in this translational project.
Scientists at Colorado State University also are collaborating on this project through CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the lab of Richard A. Bowen, DVM, PhD. If proven safe and effective in dogs, the next step likely would be evaluation and possible approval of a vaccine to prevent Valley fever in humans.