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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Gates' millions to tackle disease
Bill Gates
Bill Gates wants to improve health in the developing world
British scientists have been awarded multi-million pound grants for research into tuberculosis, malaria and HIV by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.

Mr Gates is donating 240m to 43 projects world-wide designed to tackle some of the world's biggest killers.

Among the successful bidders is London's Imperial College, which will receive 11m to fund work on TB.

St George's Medical School in London will get 10.7m to develop a HIV vaccine for women.

It's shocking how little research is directed toward the diseases of the world's poorest countries
Bill Gates

Two teams at Oxford University have been awarded grants.

One will be given 9m to investigate why some people appear to be more resistant to malaria than others, and a second will be given 5.4m to investigate vaccines for HIV, TB and malaria

The Gates Foundation received more than 1,500 bids from scientists after announcing its intention in 2003 to fund research into tackling disease in the world's poorest countries.

Simple solutions

The ultimate aim of the initiative - dubbed Grand Challenges in Global Health - is to develop methods that are not only effective, but also cheap, easy to distribute and simple to use.

The successful projects range from work into HIV vaccines to a way to boost the nutritional content of bananas.

In a statement, Mr Gates said: "It's shocking how little research is directed toward the diseases of the world's poorest countries.

"By harnessing the world's capacity for scientific innovation, I believe we can transform health in the developing world and save millions of lives."

The Imperial team, led by Dr Douglas Young, will work with researchers in other countries to try to develop new treatments to tackle latent TB infection.

The TB bacterium can lay dormant in the body for long periods of time, springing back into action unexpectedly to trigger symptoms of disease.

Vaginal infection

The St George's team is working on a HIV vaccine that works by stimulating an immune response against the virus in the lining of the vagina.

It is hoped the vaccine could be delivered via a low-cost gel or a silicone ring.

A team led by Professor Adrian Hill, at Oxford University, hope to improve technologies already used to develop potential vaccines for diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria.

These technologies, called 'naked DNA' and 'recombinant viral vector', have been shown to stimulate important immune responses.

The Oxford team hopes to improve the potency of vaccines still further by adding recently discovered molecular signals.

Professor Hill said: "We hope to use this technology to create a new generation of vaccines that are both easily delivered and highly effective, tackling diseases that kill millions in the developing world every year."

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