Tag Archives: vaccine

immune system

Discovery helps researchers better understand immune system

A team from The Australian National University (ANU) and Monash University found the immune system can recognise more proteins from viruses and vaccines than previously thought.

“More than 80 per cent of the virus proteins can be recognised by the immune system and used to trigger an immune reaction by the body. This is much more than was expected”, said senior author Professor David Tscharke from the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU.

immune system

Professor David Tscharke. (Image credit: Jamie Kidston, ANU)

“This work has unearthed a better understanding of how well viruses and vaccines are recognised by the body.”

Lead author Dr Nathan Croft, from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), said the findings will have practical outcomes for new vaccines.

“We can now begin to apply this knowledge to other viruses and to cancer, to pinpoint favourable targets for the immune system,” said Dr Croft.

The team used vaccinia virus to understand how much of a virus is actually recognised and targeted by the immune system.

Vaccinia virus was used as a vaccine to eradicate smallpox and is now repurposed as a tool against other viruses as well as cancers.

“This is a remarkable finding that highlights the power of mass spectrometry to identify the entirety of viral antigens that are exposed to the immune system,” said co-senior author, Professor Anthony Purcell from Monash BDI.

“The translation to human infectious disease is obvious, but the identification of tumor derived antigens is also an exciting area we are developing to drive the precision oncology field and cancer immunotherapy.”

“Our results also show that no part of the virus is hidden from the immune system, no matter what time these parts are produced or how they are used by the virus,” said Professor Tscharke.

The team used a combination of biochemistry, bioinformatics and statistics to identify viral peptides present on the surface of infected cells and analyse the ability of the immune system to see them as foreign targets.

The research, supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

This article was originally published by ANU.

blindness

New river blindness vaccine begins trial

Featured image above: The new vaccine Advax could prevent river blindness, which affects 17 million people globally. Credit: Flinders University 

A new vaccine with the potential to prevent millions of cases of blindness is a step closer to commercialisation.

The river blindness vaccine is being developed using the patented adjuvant technology Advax by biotechnology company Vaxine Pty Ltd in South Australia.

The vaccine, which uses a unique sugar-based adjuvant, is set for cattle trials before the end of the year.

According to the World Health Organisation, river blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, affects about 17 million people globally.

It is spread by blackflies that breed in rivers, infecting humans and cattle with a parasitic worm known as Onchocerca volvulus.

The parasites can cause eye inflammation, bleeding, and other complications that ultimately lead to blindness.

Advax makes the pathogen in the vaccine more easily recognised by the body’s immune system so it can develop appropriate antibodies.

The vaccine is being primed for a cattle trial in the United States after successful testing in mice.

Vaxine Scientific Director Nikolai Petrovsky said the company planned a two-pronged approach to effectively preventing the disease.

“First we’re looking to vaccinate the cattle, which are a breeding ground for the parasite,” he says.

“Then the other side of this is to immunise the children so if they come in contact with the parasite it blocks the infection.

“Our technology is a bit like melding a turbocharger to the engine and in this case makes the vaccine dramatically more powerful.”

Blackflies bite the host, passing on the parasite in the process. The parasitic worms then produce microfilariae that migrate to the skin, eyes and other organs.

Onchocerciasis is a major cause of blindness in African, particularly in the western and central parts of the continent. It is also prevalent in many South American countries.

River blindness is partly responsible for the reduction of economic productivity in many of those areas, causing vast tracts of arable land to be abandoned.

Potential solutions to the problem, such as ivermectin, have been developed but have often led to a resistance to the drugs.

Professor Petrovski says one of the main problems was that other methods used aluminium-based adjuvants, which were not always effective.

“We offer a new alternative that is not only potentially safer because it is a sugar instead of a metal/salt with high toxicity,” he says.

“Our adjuvant also works for a lot of vaccines that wouldn’t work with aluminium. The ones that tried to create an onchocerciasis vaccine didn’t take but ours actually works.”

Vaxine is funded by the US National Institutes of Health to develop polysaccharide adjuvants that have played a vital role in the development of a range of vaccines for infectious diseases, allergies, and cancers.

It is internationally renowned for developing the world’s first swine flu vaccine during the 2009 pandemic and is active on other fronts including Ebola and Zika virus research.

The river blindness vaccine was developed in association with Thomas Jefferson University and the New York Blood Centre in the United States.

The group has received a grant from the US Government for the cattle trial and plans to begin tests in the coming weeks.

The results of the vaccine’s mice trials were published in National Center for Biotechnology Information.

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia on 18 November 2016. Read the original article here.