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The challenge

Rotavirus kills nearly half a million children each year

In the world's poorer nations, diarrhoea can be life threatening, particularly to babies and young children.

Dr Louis Lu working in CSIRO’s recombinant protein production facility used for large-scale production of antibodies. ©  CSIRO, Morgan Brown

A leading cause of fatal diarrhoea in young children is rotavirus, which kills nearly half a million children every year, 85 per cent of whom live in developing countries.

Rotavirus infection is common in developing countries and most children have been infected at least once by the time they are three years old.

Commercial vaccines do currently exist, but are not widely available or affordable in many parts of the world.

New, cheaper vaccines are desperately needed to prevent rotavirus infection in children in countries like India, China, Brazil and beyond.

Our response

We're helping make vaccines more accessible

PATH is an international not-for-profit organisation that transforms global health through innovation.

Currently two rotavirus vaccines, Rotarix and RotaTeq, are available in Australia and recommended for global use by the World Health Organization, but they are not yet widely available or affordable for low-resource countries.

PATH is working on two fronts:

  • increasing access to and effectiveness of existing commercial rotavirus vaccines worldwide
  • accelerating the development of safe, effective, and more affordable new rotavirus vaccines.

New vaccines and suppliers will increase the availability of rotavirus vaccines and increase competition. This will help make rotavirus vaccines on the market more affordable and accessible to the world's most vulnerable children.

PATH came to us because they needed antibodies to check efficacy/quality of the batches of rotavirus vaccines, and we can produce them, lots of them.

The results

New vaccine candidates could help save lives

Our state-of-the-art protein production facility at Clayton, Victoria allowed us to perform large-scale production of the antibodies.

Initially funded by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy initiative and Victorian State Government, the Facility is Australia's only non-commercial laboratory that can produce proteins, such as antibodies, on a large scale – from hundreds of milligram to kilogram quantities.

We've supplied 6000 vials of antibodies, enough to supply PATH's partners for five years. These antibodies are now being used to control the quality of new vaccine candidates under development for rotavirus, as well as final commercial batches for everyday use.

Our antibodies are going to the places that need them most, being picked up by manufacturers and laboratories in China, Brazil, and the US. The Serum Institute of India, the second largest vaccine producer in the World, is also a major user of our antibodies.

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