Research Areas:

Protein Core Facility

BPRC is often a collaborative partner to evaluate new vaccine candidates. Yet, we also design vaccines ourselves. Scientists at BPRC have many years of experience in vaccine development.

Malaria vaccine

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PfAMA1, a protein vaccine against the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum was developed at BPRC’s protein core facility. AMA1 plays a key role in the entry of the parasite into red blood cells and therefore AMA1 is a good vaccine candidate. After optimizing vaccine design, expression and purification procedures the vaccine was used in a proof of concept study in monkeys. After an extended vaccination procedure PfAMA1 provided partial protection against the malaria disease. However, in people the vaccine did not suffice. Combining PfAMA1 with another vaccine candidate may overcome this in the future.

The same protein is currently tested as a vaccine for Plasmodium vivax Malaria. First results show that high levels of antibodies are induced after vaccination that prevent invasion in red blood cells in functionality tests in the lab.

 

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Virus like particles vaccine platform

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Virus like particles (VLPs) are molecules that resemble viruses but VLPs do not contain genetic material, and thus non-infectious. VLPs are capable of activating the immune system and generate a virus specific immune response. Therefore, VLPs are sometimes used as a vaccine. The vaccine that is currently used to protect women from cervical cancer caused by HPV is also based in virus like particle technique.

In line with this, BPRC’s protein core facility designed VLP-vaccines for Usutu virus and Zika virus. Both vaccine candidates are in early stage of development. The envelope proteins were produced by recombinant techniques, purified and biochemically prepared to generate VLP’s. Vaccination studies showed that antibodies obtained after vaccination with USUTU or ZIKA protein fractions prevent virus replication in functionality tests in the lab. However, the proteins need to be adapted to optimize VLP formation. After that, they will be further evaluated for immunogenicity and their potential as human vaccines. Read more >

 

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