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CIMR Researchers Awarded for Studies of the Development of a Fungal Vaccine

San Jose, CA - June 17, 2014 - The California Institute for Medical Research (CIMR), a non-profit organization, received notification on June 10 from the National Institutes of Health that a group of its researchers have received an award for studies of the development of a fungal vaccine. Fungal microbes cause disease in both healthy and immune-compromised persons, and are frequently fatal. Successful development of a vaccine could prevent such infections, and lessen the need for difficult and costly treatment.

The award enables continuation of a collaboration between the CIMR researchers and Biothera, a biotechnology company in Eagan, Minnesota. The CIMR researchers include Drs. David A. Stevens and Karl V. Clemons, internationally-acclaimed researchers in fungal diseases, and Biothera has expertise in carbohydrate chemistry. Carbohydrates (sugars) are a key component of fungal cell walls. This grant has the novel approach of combining purified fungal components into one vaccine that will protect against many different fungal infections. This effort is an extension of the prior work of the CIMR researchers, who have shown this cross-protection in experiments using a whole killed fungus. The goal is to develop a simpler but equally powerful and broad vaccine. Dr. Stevens heads the CIMR part of these studies, and Drs. Donald Cox, Mary Antonysamy and Michael Danielson are the collaborating scientists in the Biothera unit. A supporter of their effort is Dr. Markus Kalkum, of the City of Hope in Duarte, California, an expert in other fungal components, who will contribute purified components for conjugation into a final test vaccine. Drs. Stevens and Clemons also teach at Stanford University Medical School in the Division of Infectious Diseases. The amount of the award is $150,000.

CIMR, on the grounds of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose and governed by a Board of community leaders, was founded by Santa Clara County physicians 50 years ago, and enjoys financial support from philanthropic individuals in the South Bay, as well as from foundations and governmental agencies.  Visit www.cimr.org.