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Vaccines of the Future
Basic Research in CHORI's Center for Immunobiology & Vaccine Development

CHORI’s Center for Immunbiology and Vaccine Development (CIVD) is known for its work in carbohydrate immunology – the investigation of pathogens encapsulated in polymers of sugars, called polysaccharides. “Studying how antibodies recognize carbohydrates and characterizing in outstanding detail the molecular basis of immune responses to polysaccharides is what we do,” says Alexander Lucas, PhD, senior scientist and Director of research at CHORI.

The insights garnered from these breakthrough studies are also being applied to investigations of protein-encapsulated pathogens like anthrax. Collaborations with CHORI investigator Terrance Leighton, PhD, a national expert on anthrax and the lead microbiologist for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Emergency Response Team, target vaccine development against anthrax and anthrax spores.

The bacterial pathogen, Neisseria meningitidis (also called the meningococcus), causes meningitis and sepsis, which are dreaded diseases that worldwide, kill or maim hundreds of thousands of children and young adults each year. There is no broadly protective vaccine for prevention of group B strains, which account for the majority of cases of meningococcal disease in the United States and Europe. CIVD scientist, Gregory Moe, PhD, (ADD LINK) is investigating the vaccine potential of sialic acid polymers, called PSA, which are rare in normal human tissues—but are present on the capsule of group B strains. His laboratory discovered that the bacteria and several human cancers express a derivative of PSA that is not found on normal human cells, which makes it an attractive target for the development of vaccines and immunotherapy for prevention of both group B meningococcal disease and some forms of human cancers.

 

Revised: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 11:21 AM

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