UNM Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Research Grant

UNM College of Pharmacy Assistant Professor Pavan Muttil will direct a $100,000 grant from Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,to develop an improved Tuberculosis (TB) vaccine.

Muttil will test the theory that live Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunization by the pulmonary route will elicit a stronger and more sustained immune response in animals than the conventional injected BCG vaccine. This novel method of vaccine delivery could overcome the variable protection observed by the current tuberculosis vaccine administered as an injection.

Tuberculosis is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that typically attack the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body. It is spread through droplet aerosols.

One-third of the world’s population is thought to be infected with TB, with new infections occurring at about one per second. In 2010 there were an estimated 8.8 million new cases and 1.4 million associated deaths, mostly occurring in developing countries.

Grand Challenges Explorations grants foster creative projects that show great promise to improve the health of people in the developing world. Grants target an expanding set of global health topics, and there are two award rounds per year. Projects with demonstrated success in their initial phase of research have the opportunity to receive Phase II funding of up to $1 million.

Muttil’s Phase I Grant,Pulmonary BCG Immunization for Uniform Protection Against TB, was included among 109 awards representing 18 countries selected from more than 2,700 proposals. “We have a real opportunity to slow the global scourge of TB,” Muttil asserts. “Pioneering research projects like this enable us to learn more about human interaction with these deadly pathogens and to contemplate new strategies for interventions, while reminding us of how exciting biomedical research is.”

For more information onGrandChallenges Explorations, visithttp://www.grandchallenges.org/Explorations. For more information on the UNM College of Pharmacy, visithttp://hsc.unm.edu/pharmacy/.

Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322