Origins of TOVA

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).


Table 2, Progress towards a vaccine against River Blindness
EMCF, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation NIH, National Institutes for Health USA EU, European Union