NIH grants University of Arizona $4.8M for Valley fever vaccine

The National Institutes of Health awarded Tucson-based University of Arizona College of Medicine $4.8 million to aid in the development of a Valley fever vaccine candidate.

Valley fever is a respiratory illness caused by Coccidioides spores, which can be found in the soils of the southwestern United States. The institution's Valley Fever Center for Excellence will use the funds to accelerate the development of the vaccine and test its safety and efficacy in dogs. If successful, research would then progress to develop the vaccine for approved use in clinical trials.

"We are very excited to receive this award," said John Galgiani, MD, a professor of medicine at UA and the center's founding and current director. "This reflects the scientific validity of our plans, and the funds will greatly accelerate the vaccine's development."

More than 90 percent of human valley fever infections occur in Arizona and California, making the illness the most significant fungal public health issue in the Southwest. Valley fever causes 50,000 illnesses and more than 150 deaths every year. Symptoms include cough, fever and a distinctive rash on the upper body or legs.

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