Human onchocerciasis (“river blindness”) caused by the filarial nematode parasite Onchocerca volvulus is a serious neglected tropical disease and an important cause of blindness, skin disease and chronic disability in the developing world. New estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 (GBD 2013) indicate that 17 million cases of onchocerciasis occur worldwide, with 1.2 million cases of vision impairment and blindness, such that onchocerciasis is the second leading cause of infectious blindness in developing countries.

As a partner in the Onchocerciasis Vaccine for Africa (TOVA) vaccine initiative, scientists at our laboratories have now started to work on process development for several protein antigens that will become part of novel vaccine or vaccine-linked chemotherapy approach protecting against this debilitating infection. We will produce these antigens in house, conduct technology transfer to a cGMP manufacturer, and prepare the necessary regulatory filings.