Novartis, a major vaccine manufacturer headquartered at Basel, is opening a new research institute called Novartis Vaccines Institute for Global Health (NVGH) in Siena (Italy) with a nonprofit mission to exclusively focus on the development of vaccines for diseases of the developing world. 

Currently, only about 10% of the world’s medical research is devoted to conditions that account for 90% of the global disease burden. All products discovered at NVGH will be introduced first in developing countries. While NVGH will focus on the R&D for vaccines for diseases of the developing world, the Institute will license a third party to develop and distribute the vaccines at an affordable and accessible price to the target populations

The NVGH’s goal is to address the unmet medical need for vaccines for diseases of the developing world by researching vaccines specifically tailored for developing country needs and introducing them first in those countries. The NVGH is a public private partnership and will also collaborate with external organizations to build strength in resources.

The institute will be headed by Dr Allan Saul, who has nearly 30 years of experience in translational research and development. Dr. Saul joined Novartis from the laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US. He has a strong background in vaccines research and his translational vaccine research experience has lead to numerous candidates taken into full development and testing.

At present, NVGH is conducting the majority of research activities around conjugate vaccines for enteric diseases. Initial disease areas of focus will be Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. typhi), Salmonella paratyphi A and nontyphoidal salmonellae (NTS), which are important causes of infection and disease in children. In Africa, multi drug resistant non-typhoidal salmonella (NTS) is one of the leading causes of morbidity and high mortality in children under 5 years of age, second in importance only to pneumococcal disease. With more than 4.5 billion cases per year, diarrheal diseases are ubiquitous around the globe.