$4.8M grant funds work on vaccine for coccidioidomycosis

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The National Institutes of Health has awarded a four-year, $4.8 million grant to the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson to fund work on a vaccine against coccidioidomycosis in dogs. Also called valley fever, the sometimes-deadly respiratory illness is caused by Coccidioides spores found in soils of the Southwest.

The vaccine candidate, a live vaccine known as delta-CPS1, was developed by a multidisciplinary team of investigators. Among the team members is Dr. Lisa Shubitz, a veterinarian and associate research professor.

The vaccine already has protected mice from coccidioidomycosis. The research goal is to test and possibly license the vaccine for use in dogs to protect them from contracting coccidioidomycosis. Anivive Lifesciences Inc., a California-based biotechnology company, has licensed the vaccine from the UA and will provide additional investment and expertise to fully develop the vaccine for dogs.

Scientists at Colorado State University also are collaborating on the project through the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and the laboratory of Dr. Richard A. Bowen, a veterinarian and professor.

If the vaccine proves safe and effective for dogs, the next step probably would be evaluation and possible approval of a vaccine to prevent coccidioidomycosis in humans.