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Spencer Trask Partners with Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation to Tap the Global Brain for a Polio Solution

Creates Challenge Seeks Ideas to Reduce the Cost of Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV)

(Greenwich, CT) – November 10, 2011 – Spencer Trask and the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation (JSLF) have announced a joint effort aimed at helping eradicate polio globally.  Jointly called BeyondPolio, the Trask/JSLF partnership has launched the first in a series of global, online Challenges designed to find a lower cost application of the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). 

Launched on the platform InnoCentive, Inc., the pioneer in open innovation and crowdsourcing, the initial challenge will reward the most promising idea for how the cost of IPV might be reduced.  Collectively, we believe this challenge has the potential to enhance the eradication efforts of so many individuals and organizations during the past 30 years.

“In making polio the number one priority of his Foundation, Bill Gates asked the public to contribute ideas.  This Challenge is our response,” said Kevin Kimberlin, chairman of Spencer Trask & Co. “Jonas Salk was my friend. His breakthrough in creating a vaccine against polio was part of ‘the largest peacetime mobilization of volunteers in U.S. history.’ To help finish the job of eradicating this disease, BeyondPolio is using InnoCentive’s proven Challenge platform to tap the world’s compassion and intelligence. It’s a pioneering approach to solving big problems and anyone can be a Solver!”

Dr. Jonas Salk applied a radical approach and worked with great rigor to finding a vaccine for polio – a frightening disease that stunted the dealings of an entire country.  When he succeeded with his “killed vaccine” in 1955, he became a hero to his country by reversing the tide on the disease.  His field trials were deemed the largest health experiment in American history, involving almost two million children and several hundred thousand adult volunteers.  From a peak of 58,000 U.S. cases, by 1961 only 121 cases were reported nationally and polio was virtually eliminated in North America.

Though many countries would subsequently declare themselves polio-free, wild polioviruses are still circulating in a few remaining countries in Asia and Africa, where more than 1,000 new cases of paralytic polio are diagnosed each year.  BeyondPolio is focused on both reducing the cost and facilitating the use of the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), developed by Jonas Salk and his colleagues, to help in the final stages of the global polio eradication effort.

The initial Challenge, Increasing the affordability of inactivated poliovirus vaccine in low- and middle-income countries, seeks novel ideas to significantly reduce the cost of using IPV in countries where it is currently unaffordable.   We expect the solution to this Challenge will be the basis for larger Challenges aimed at eradication and beyond once eradication is achieved.

“The oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) used in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has led to the near extinction of wild polioviruses. However, OPV contains live, weakened viruses that can regain the ability to cause polio,” said Dr. Peter Salk, President of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation. “Approximately one quarter of all polio cases in the world today are associated with the use of OPV.”

“Wealthy countries can afford to use IPV, which contains killed viruses that cannot cause polio,” he continued. “However, cost is a barrier to its use in low and middle income countries. We want to ensure that financial considerations will not be a barrier to IPV’s use during the final stages to rid the world of polio.”

Successful completion of the polio eradication program will provide significant benefits. In addition to preventing the human toll of death and disability from polio, it has been estimated that eradication will provide a cumulative net financial benefit of approximately $40-50 billion by the year 2035. Moreover, the eradication of a second major human disease—following the eradication of smallpox in 1979—should provide a stimulus to mobilizing resources to address other significant global health problems.

About Spencer Trask & Co.
Spencer Trask & Co. brings together angels, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and major corporations into a Value Creation Network where big ideas are transformed into great companies.  Spencer Trask is a leading network of early-stage investors and business leaders that has provided financial and intellectual capital for some of the most influential ventures in technology and healthcare including Myriad Genetics, Ciena, Osiris Therapeutics, Health Dialog and others. (www.spencertrask.com)

About the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation
The Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation is dedicated to preserving and extending the contributions of one of society's great scientists and humanitarians. It does so by helping to organize and make available the collection of Jonas Salk's papers and historical artifacts, participating in and assisting with educational programs and projects, and exploring continued application of his scientific and philosophical vision towards solution of ongoing problems confronting humanity.  (www.jonassalklegacyfoundation.org)

About BeyondPolio

BeyondPolio is a collaborative program and dedicated fund of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation, undertaken in conjunction with Spencer Trask & Co.  BeyondPolio aims to assist the global effort to eradicate polio and maintain success once eradication is achieved.  BeyondPolio is using prize-based Innovation Challenges to attract new creative approaches to this mission.  Further discussion and background is available on the BeyondPolio website (www.beyondpolio.org).

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