At GREAT risk of dating myself, nearly 20 years ago, I flew to a meeting in an obscure hotel in Ames, Iowa to give a talk on in silico methods for vaccine design (link is to the latest publication on the tools). On the way to my room, I shared an elevator with wiggling and giggling bathrobe-clad Future Farmers of America (teenagers who were using the pool in the hotel). The topic of our (USDA / ARS) meeting was ‘reduction and replacement’… in other words, replacing animal testing of drugs with other methods. My role was to describe the use of ‘artificial intelligence’ or in silico models to replace studies in animals. Flash forward to now!

The FDA is going #CrueltyFree!

Yes, I will see the same teenagers in Chicago at CRWAD next week (probably) … and we’re ‘back to the future’ in ‘reduce and replace’. Meanwhile, platform shoes, leopard print coats, bellbottoms are also back in style (now can I break out my Prince outfits? Count me in!)….More specifically, #cruelty free drug and vaccine development is now possible, according to changes at the FDA. In a HUGE development, Biden signed the FDA Modernization Act 2.0effectively ending the animal testing requirement for new drugs and biosimilarsIn silico modeling, anyone? Besides saving the lives of millions of our furry friends (Jack approves!) this new will lead to greater efficiency in drug development.We’ve been in favor of reduce and replace since day 1 at EpiVax, using in silico and in vitro testing (with human PBMC) for … 25 years now. In fact, we’re working with the FDA on several programs that will use in silico tools (a.k.a AI) to advance drug development, including a $2M grant to study the use of in silico tools for assessing the immunogenicity of HCP (Host Cell Proteins) for biosimilarsFor more info, click here!

We are 25! out with the old and on to… EpiVax 2.0!

EpiVax turns 25 this year! Of course, Katie, Sarah and I will be jet-setting to Osaka, Amsterdam and Paris (Ok that sounds like a line from a BTS song) to celebrate with you! Meanwhile, we’ve invested 25 years into the development of cutting-edge immunology tools and methods for our scientific colleagues. We’re asking our Epi-Team to share their vision of EpiVax for the next 25 years. Are you ready for EpiVax 2.0?

But first, let’s Party! Yes, it’s true! We’ll be celebrating like it’s … 1999 (RIP Prince) and  >>>>You are invited!<<<< Watch for Epi-B-day events near you! And we’ll be having an open house at the HQ in Rising Sun Mills, Providence, Rhode Island. Save the date: Our 25th birthday is on May 18th, Sign up here to RSVP and as BTS would say …  The best is yet to come…

We Need More Fearless Scientists!

A study published in Nature highlights a trend that you probably already noticed. While the number of papers published has expanded exponentially, “disruptive” research papers have declined to a trickle.

Source: Park, M., Leahey, E. & Funk, R. J. Nature 613, 138–144 (2023)
Fearless Science means out of the box” thinking and – at EpiVax especially, we mean publishing our work even if the data conflicts with established dogma. Take for example – the concept that pathogens integrate ‘human-like” epitopes to induce immune camouflage. Or that cross-reactive ‘memory’ T cells matter for vaccine design … but wait there’s more – Immune camouflage also applies to cancer … and, comparing T cell epitopes in vaccines and circulating strains can predict pathogen spillover, yes, all that sounds pretty crazy sometimes …. and yet we persist! Fortunately it does seem people have started to listen. If you are still reading this newsletter, that means you’re a Fearless Scientist too. Tell me about your “Fearless Science” here – I want to champion it! 


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