News

Gates Foundation funds innovative vaccine project

Burnet Institute

03 July, 2013

Microcubes

Researchers plan to establish whether these MicroCubes are a potent and ultra-stable way to deliver vaccines.

An innovative vaccine project that uses crystals to stimulate the immune system to protect against viruses such as HIV and influenza has received Phase II funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Head of Burnet Institute’s Viral Immunology Laboratory, Dr Rosemary Ffrench collaborates with Dr Fasseli Coulibaly from the Monash School of Biomedical Sciences and Professor Lorena Brown from the University of Melbourne on the project.

“This is an exciting new way of delivering vaccines and stimulating the best immune response,” Dr Ffrench said.

“We have developed a new crystal-based vaccine - and we plan to establish whether these MicroCubes are a potent and ultra-stable way to deliver vaccines. If so, it would be suitable for use in remote areas where adequate refrigeration facilities are not always available,” Dr Coulibaly said.

From 2009 to 2012, Dr Coulibaly, and Dr Ffrench were awarded two Phase I grants for the MicroCube program Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) Phase I recognises individuals worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world’s toughest and persistent global health and development challenges.

GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to solve the problems people in the developing world face every day. Phase II recognises those ideas that have made significant progress toward implementation.

“To assess the suitability of MicroCubes as a novel vaccine platform, we will work on producing a flu MicroCube vaccine and compare it to existing vaccines. Given the fantastic tools available for research on influenza virus, it will then be easy to translate preclinical studies to knowing what is going to happen in humans,” Dr Coulibaly said.

“Together with my collaborators we’re hoping to establish in this Phase II project, that MicroCubes have unique properties that also warrant their development as a vaccine vector targeting infectious diseases with the highest burden in developing countries: malaria, TB and HIV.”

Dr Ffrench, Dr Coulibaly and Professor Brown have found the MicroCubes to be very safe so far and they also generate very strong immune responses.

“Development of new vaccine strategies like these relies very heavily on the generous support on benefactors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” Dr Ffrench said.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Heidi E Drummer

Program Director, Disease Elimination; Co-Head, Drummer/Poumbourios Laboratory

Telephone

+61392822179

Email

heidi.drummer@burnet.edu.au

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