Origins of TOVA
TOVA has its origins in the river blindness (onchocerciasis) vaccine program of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) that contributed $21.6 million between 1985 and 1999.
This investment focused on:
- development of experimental animal models for screening candidate vaccine antigens and analysis of mechanisms evoked by immunization with protective recombinant vaccine antigens
- immunological studies in animals and in humans
- identification of protective antigens
- increased understanding of the epidemiology and pathology of river blindness
When the programme ended, the work of African, American and European laboratories had developed three animal models, identified a portfolio of 15 O volvulus vaccine candidates including eight that were tested in the O ochengi bovine model, and obtained proof-of-principle of vaccination against infection (Table 2).
The impetus given by EMCF was carried forward by the European Union through its Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (FP7, E PIAF, Enhanced Protective Immunity Against Filariasis, coordinated by Professor David W Taylor), and by the US NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (The development of a recombinant vaccine against human onchocerciasis headed by Dr Sara Lustigman).