A nutraceutical to improve vaccine efficacy in developing countries

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A nutraceutical to improve vaccine efficacy in developing countries

Ouagadougou, Burkina FasoRixensart, Belgium
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

My initiative deals with the formulation of an effective nutraceutical combining highly nutritious compounds with scientifically-proven immunostimulant effects. The goal is to improve vaccine efficacy in developing countries by tackling both malnutrition and immunodeficiency issues at the same time.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Malnutrition is considered to be the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide. Malnutrition elicits dysfunctions in the immune system and promotes increased vulnerability of the host to infections. These immune dysfunctions are referred to as nutritional-acquired immune deficiency syndrome (NAIDS), which is reversible if adequate nutrition is restored. NAIDS can impair the establishment of effective vaccine-induced immune responses. As an example, the protective efficacy of rotavirus vaccination in developing countries is about 50% of the efficacy found in developed countries. This reduced protective efficacy of vaccines in developing countries is strongly correlated with malnutrition, especially in Africa, India and Asia.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The solution consists in developing an effective nutraceutical composed of highly nutritious compounds with scientifically-proven immunostimulant effects. This nutraceutical will be administered (as a powder for dispersal in water or milk) to individuals before, during and after the vaccination campaigns to restore healthy nutritional and immunocompetence levels and thus improve vaccine effectiveness. Moreover, the compounds will be selected according to their capacity to grow in harsh conditions with basic infrastructures so that the nutraceutical can be directly produced in developing countries. The formulation will be composed of spirulina (highly nutritious blue-green algae with scientifically-proven immunostimulant activities), quinoa, amaranth and oat: highly nutritious cereal grains rich in saponins, phytosterols and beta-glucans respectively, three families of chemical compounds known to have immunomodulatory and health beneficial effects.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The business model of this solution would be similar to the one developed by the Grameen Danone Foods company, the joint venture launched by Danone and Grameen in 2006 in Bangladesh (see video). The goal is to create a social enterprise that will produce the planned nutraceutical at a price affordable for the poorest individuals. The nutraceutical factory would be implemented in a LDC to promote local economy development by creating business and employment opportunities for rural communities since raw materials will be sourced locally (farming and distribution jobs). Surrounding farmers will be supported in setting-up cost-effective and labor-intensive production models via microfinance programs and fixed contracts with the company. Moreover, this social business enterprise will have to be profitable to ensure economic sustainability, i.e. profits from the first plant will be re-invested in order to finance the construction of new plants.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Social enterprises dedicated to bring health through nutrition to the poorest communities in LDCs already exist and the Grameen Danone Foods company is a good example, but these initiatives remain limited. From my knowledge, there is no “social nutraceutical companies” developing tailor-made immunostimulant products for vaccine efficacy improvement in poor communities. Nevertheless, the compounds that I propose to combine are already produced individually in certain LDC regions. The key specification that will distinguish our nutraceutical product from the individual compounds already available on the market will be the strong scientific and clinical background supporting the synergistic value of its formulation.
Team

Founding Story

Seven years ago, while working on my PhD in Immunology, I heard about spirulina, a highly nutritious blue-green algae, as a possible solution to fight chronic malnutrition in least developed countries (LDCs). Further reading in scientific journals revealed that extracts of spirulina had immunostimulant activities. From that moment on I started to consider the benefits of nutraceuticals on immunocompromised individuals who required vaccines and therapies like malnourished children and pregnant/breast-feeding women, HIV-infected people especially in LDCs. At the same time, I noticed the growth of the nutraceutical market mainly focused on developed countries. I have discovered that there is a place for innovative social business initiatives based on the use of nutraceuticals in LDCs to address malnutrition and low vaccine efficacy issues in poor communities.
About You
About You
First Name

Nicolas

Tell us about yourself/your team.

I am an expert scientist in molecular biology at GSK Vaccines (Belgium). I hold a PhD in Immunology from the Université de la Méditerranée (France) and completed post-doctoral training in Cancer Immunogenetics at the Gustave Roussy Institute (France). I have always wanted to participate in the quest towards new classes of well tolerated anti-cancer therapies and thus decided to join the GSK Antigen-Specific Cancer Immunotherapeutic (ASCI) program three years ago. My group participates in the characterization of tumor-specific antigens and related biomarkers at the molecular level and their implementation in clinical trials.

What makes you an intrapreneur? What are the skills, capabilities, and personality traits that make you an intrapreneur?

In my opinion, there are two kinds of people: people who have ideas but never do anything about them, and people who do something about their ideas. I have always wanted to be one of the doers. I like to generate new ideas which address issues and tackle the underlying causes of problems to create strategies and a vision for the future. In other words, I have creative and innovative thinking skills. Moreover, I am determined, persevering, diplomatic and able to lead cross-functional teams.

About Your Organization
Company Country

, WBR, Rixensart

Primary country where this project is creating social impact

, KAD, Ouagadougou

Additional countries or regions

All developping countries

Industry

Health Care

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Innovation
Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Idea (you're poised to launch)

The Solution: Why is this solution innovative for your company and industry?

GSK corporate social responsibility (CSR) represents a standard in the pharmaceutical industry field, notably based on its social initiatives in least developed countries (LDCs). The development of a nutraceutical produced by the LDCs themselves to improve vaccine efficacy in LDCs would constitute a new social business solution fully aligned with GSK CSR and would benefit from the scientific expertise and the know-how of GSK Vaccines and GSK Consumer Healthcare.

Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The solution that I propose has not been launched yet. I was waiting for the opportunity to make my idea a reality. That’s the reason why I jumped at the chance when I heard about the League of the Intrapreneurs Competition. I am convinced that this initiative can achieve success with the support of GSK.

What is your projected impact over the next 1 to 3 years?

The projected worldwide impact of the proposed solution over the next 1-3 years can be summarized in two points:
-An improvement of health in LDCs through a better nutrition and vaccination effectiveness.
-An improvement of the living conditions of rural communities by creating jobs through involvement in all stages of the business model: supply, production, sales and through sustainable local microeconomics based on fair trading of raw materials, good working conditions, and fair wage and employee empowerment.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Financial, industrial and commercial challenges will have to be met:
-Access sufficient financial resources to create the company and build the first factory. The Grameen Danone success story will represent the proof-of-concept to convince investors.
-Design an environmentally friendly, low-cost and low-maintenance factory with infrastructures based on renewable energies (solar energy, biomass gasification, rain water collection) and relying on local labour rather than on sophisticated machinery to avoid expensive maintenance and promote job creation.
-Adapt the pricing strategy to rural and urban markets by setting prices at a realistic level reflecting the community’s ability to pay.

Sustainability
What is the benefit or value you're creating for your business?

Among GSK vaccine portfolio, we can distinguish a rotavirus vaccine, a pneumococcal vaccine and potentially a malaria vaccine in the near future, which represent weapons against the three leading causes of childhood mortality in developing countries. The development of a tailor-made nutraceutical for vaccine effectiveness improvement in LDCs will support via a complementary, sustainable and profitable way one of the GSK responsible business goals: “health for all.”

How are you leveraging internal resources (funds, time, knowledge, etc.) to support this initiative?

As a science-led global healthcare company, GSK is committed to developing practical ideas that have a significant social impact, especially in the least developed countries, a policy that reflects its recognised corporate social responsibility. That is the reason why this initiative will benefit from the support and the expertise of GSK Consumer Healthcare and GSK Vaccines in terms of scientific innovation, manufacturing and commercial strategies. Internal resources and funds to be allocated to this project will be defined in due time depending on the issue of this competition.

Expand on your answer, explaining the long-term funding and support plan.

As a social business enterprise addressing a social objective, the financial strategy will consist in generating a symbolic dividend of 1 to 5% annually that will be re-invested to expand the company (building of new factories) and improve the product(s). It should be noticed that this financial model will be put in place once the founder(s) who have contributed to the seed capital will have recovered their investment. At the same time various funders such as governments, private and public non-profit foundations, corporations and impact investors will be approached and asked to participate in the capital increase over time.

Tell us about your partnerships across your company and externally that are key to your project's success.

An internal partnership will be established between GSK Consumer Healthcare and GSK Vaccines for the development of the nutraceutical prototype and the proof-of-concept in terms of vaccine efficacy improvement. A potential external partnership with the Grameen Bank or a similar organization could be considered to support the microfinance programs that will be offered to the farmers.

What internal support have you gotten for your project? What kind of push-back have you received?

I have received valuable support from my supervisors and have established key contacts with GSK Consumer Healthcare to move forward with this initiative. I have not received any push-back so far.

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