Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in big research win
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has been awarded £4.7 million in funding from the Research England Development (RED) Fund.
LSTM has been given the money to help set up an in-patient human challenge facility (HCF) which supported the development of the Oxford Astra Zeneca Covid 19 vaccine trial, with Liverpool the largest trial site outside Oxford.
The team will be based at the newly purchased Accelerator Building, based in Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter.
The funding will complement an earlier award of £2m to the HCF from The Pandemic Institute, a unique collaboration in Liverpool between academic, civic and health service partners.
The 12-bed isolation HCF will enable LSTM to expand its existing experimental research in infection – specifically around unique human challenge models, which uses human volunteers to test vaccine and drug safety and efficacy.
LSTM’s HCF will become the largest academic in-patient human challenge isolation facility in the UK, working in partnership with the Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust and The University of Liverpool to increase national capacity for human infection research.
Reflecting on the news, director of LSTM, David Lalloo, said: “As LSTM celebrates its 125th anniversary, this is an exciting opportunity to forge ahead with our ambitions for the next 125 years. The HCF will act as a catalyst to the delivery and development of new treatments and vaccines, so we can continue to have a global impact in infection treatment and control. This cutting-edge facility will act as a focal point for the development of new technologies to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, bringing together innovative industries and academics from across the country.”
Human challenge research involves intentionally giving participants an infection in a controlled environment with appropriate healthcare support. It is a faster, more cost-effective way of assessing the efficacy and safety of new vaccines and therapeutics. Challenge models can potentially speed up product development and approval by 2-4 years.
The demand and need for access to human challenge models, by both academic and commercial sectors, has been clearly demonstrated throughout the COVID pandemic.
The HCF builds on over a decade of experience and success on human challenge studies by the Liverpool Vaccine Group led by Prof Daniela Ferreira and Dr Andrea Collins at LSTM, including the Covid 19 vaccine trial.
Director of The Pandemic Institute, Professor Tom Solomon said: “This is wonderful news that we now have the funding needed for the development of this new facility. The Pandemic Institute’s mission is to tackle emerging infections and future pandemic threats. Through the new HCF, we can develop new and improved diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines against a range of viruses and bacteria, working with academic and commercial partners. The creation of the HCF underscores Liverpool’s commitment to research, development, and innovation.”