Steven Meshnick and Carla Hand of the
University of North Carolina in the U.S. will develop a
bio-compatible, biodegradable polymer device that can be placed
under the skin to introduce vaccines and antigens to the immune
The device will attract immune cells and
trigger their proliferation as well as act as an adjuvant at the site
of injection. If successful, the device could help boost immune
response to new and existing vaccines. [see
Vaccination Via Nanoparticle Aerosols
Vaccine delivery systems that target
specific areas of the body have the potential to be especially
effective against some types of infection.
For example, inhaled vaccines may better
guard against respiratory diseases, such as tuberculosis, and those
that commonly infect the tissues of the nose and throat, such as
Dr. Edwards is leading a
multidisciplinary team using materials science technologies combined
with infectious disease, device, and toxicology expertise to
reformulate tuberculosis and diphtheria vaccines into aerosol sprays
that can be inhaled.
The team's ultimate objective is to
develop a cell-based BCG vaccine for tuberculosis and a protein
antigen CRM 197 vaccine for diphtheria in the form of novel porous nanoparticle aggregate (PNAP) aerosols.
Synthetic RNA Vaccines
Alison McCormick of Touro University,
California in the U.S. will test the ability of a low-cost
plant-based synthetic biology method to produce a combined viral
protein epitope with an antigen RNA expression system for use in an
RNA malaria vaccine.
Using plants for this viral transfection
system could make RNA vaccine production scalable and cost
Vaccine Distribution In Emerging Markets
Lisa Ganley-Leal and Pauline Mwinzi of
Epsilon Therapeutics, Inc. in the U.S. will test the hypothesis that
selling vaccines through medicine shops in emerging markets can lead
to profits for both vaccine developers and the small business
Demonstrating profitability may lead
pharmaceutical companies to invest greater resources in vaccine
development and distribution and develop local partnerships for
Programmed Pathogen Sense and Destroy
Saurabh Gupta and Ron Weiss of
Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. proposed creating
sentinel cells that can detect the presence of a pathogen, report
its identity with a biological signal, and secrete molecules to
This project's Phase I
research demonstrated that commensal bacteria can be engineered to
detect and specifically kill the model bacterial pathogen
Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In Phase II, Gupta and Weiss will engineer
the human microbiota to specifically detect and destroy the gut
pathogen Shigella flexneri, which is responsible for high mortality
rates in children.
Vaccine in a
Salt Shaker - A New, Safe, Low-Cost Approach
Shiladitya DasSarma will lead a team at
the University of Maryland, Baltimore in the U.S. to develop an
inexpensive, safe, and effective oral vaccine against invasive
Salmonella disease using gas-filled bacterial vesicles.
The project seeks to produce a
salt-encased, shelf-stable vaccine requiring no refrigeration for
Mouse Model to Evaluate Live Attenuated Vaccine Candidates
To develop new vaccines against some of
the world's biggest killers, including HIV, malaria, and
tuberculosis, scientists must be able to evaluate promising
Some of the most promising potential
vaccines, are made from weakened live versions of the infectious
agent. As a result, they cannot be studied in
human trials unless researchers can be confident that the weakened
vaccines will be safe.
Dr. Flavell and his colleagues are working to
genetically engineer laboratory mice whose immune systems are
similar enough to humans to permit testing of vaccines against
diseases that disproportionately affect people in the developing
Delivery of Human Milk Proteins to Infants
Qiang Chen of Arizona State University
in the U.S. proposes to engineer edible plants, such as lettuce and
rice, to express beneficial proteins found in human milk.
The protein bodies in these plants allow
for the stable, high accumulation of these human milk proteins, and
the plants can either be eaten directly by infants or formulated
into baby food to provide essential nutrients and antibacterial
Female Contraceptive Targeting Egg-Specific Metalloprotease
John Herr of the University of Virginia
in the U.S. will research the egg-specific membrane enzyme
metalloprotease as a target for a non-hormonal female contraceptive.
After determining the nature of the
enzyme's catalytic pocket, a family of peptidomimetic compounds will
be tested for their ability to bind to the enzyme and block its key
role in egg fertilization.
Bacillus-Fermented Natto as
Edible Vaccines for the Developing World
Michael Chan of the Ohio State Research
Foundation in the U.S. will develop an engineered strain of bacteria
used to ferment beans in traditional Asian and African diets, to
display an antigen from the Tuberculosis bacterium.
The engineered bacillus will then be
used to make the traditional Asian dish natto, which can serve as a
kind of oral vaccine to elicit a strong immune response.
If successful, this strategy can be used
to introduce a variety of disease antigens through culturally
David Clapham of Children's Hospital
Boston in the U.S. will develop and test a nanoparticle
contraceptive that releases sperm tail inhibitors in response to
vaginal pH changes or exposure to prostatic fluid.
If successful, the nanoparticles could
be incorporated into a vaginal gel to block sperm motility required
tool For Traditional Ceremonies In Africa
Kathleen Sienko of the University of
Michigan in the U.S. has developed a prototype circumcision tool for
use in traditional ceremonies in Africa, and seeks to demonstrate
the functionality, cultural suitability, and potential for low-cost
mass production of the device.
Such a tool could increase the
circumcision rates leading to lower rates of HIV transmission in the
Chemosensory Molecules as Novel Contraceptives
John Ngai and Scott Laughlin of the
University of California, Berkeley in the U.S. seek to identify
chemical compounds in the female reproductive system that guide
sperm cells to the egg.
By characterizing these "odorants,"
synthetic versions can be produced and administered to disrupt this
navigation system thus inhibiting fertilization.
Milk Containing Human Antimicrobial Protein
Hironori Matsushima of the University of
Toledo in the U.S. will test the hypothesis that adding an
antimicrobial peptide to powdered milk products can confer
protection against enteric diseases.
Research will focus on testing the
peptide for its ability to kill pathogens in stomach conditions, and
on its ability to maintain integrity through the milk pasteurization
and drying processes.
Ultrasound as a
Long-Term, Reversible Male Contraceptive
James Tsuruta and Paul Dayton of the
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill will study the ability of
therapeutic ultrasound to deplete testicular sperm counts.
Characterizing the most beneficial
timing and dosage could lead to the development of a low-cost,
non-hormonal and reversible method of contraception for men.