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Fast-track tools to test and monitor vaccine safety

Vaccines are widely acknowledged to be one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to combat infectious diseases in both developed and developing countries.

Thanks to a research project being led by the University of Surrey, safer, more effective vaccines could come into widespread use much faster.

Biomarkers for Enhanced Vaccine Safety (BioVacSafe) is a consortium of 19 partners, including three of Europe’s leading vaccine producing companies, experts from major academic institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises and non-governmental organisations.

Launched in March 2012, the five-year, €30.2 million project aims to develop cutting-edge tools to speed up and improve the testing and monitoring of vaccine safety, both before and after release to the market. It is being funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative, the world’s largest public-private partnership in drug research.

Several members of the project team are from the University of Surrey, including David Lewis, Professor of Clinical Vaccine Immunology, the BioVacSafe Project Coordinator. Derk-Jan Dijk, Professor of Sleep and Physiology, and Dr Julia Boyle, Director of the Surrey Clinical Research Centre, are co-investigators. The project’s clinical trials will take place at the University’s Clinical Research Centre.

The project will draw on the latest life science research findings to profile how individuals respond to the different components of vaccines at the cellular, genetic and molecular level. This will allow the consortium to identify and characterise new biomarkers in response to both licensed and novel vaccines useful to identify warning signs that a potential vaccine may be reactogenic.

“As new technologies are harnessed to make vaccines more effective, evaluating them for safety becomes increasingly challenging,” said Professor David Lewis, BioVacSafe Project Coordinator. “By bringing together Europe’s leading industrial and academic teams, we will discover new tools to develop even safer and more effective vaccines.”

Find out more about BioVacSafe and the Innovative Medicines Institute.

Learn more about vaccine research at the Clinical Research Centre in this video.

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