In early May, Dr. Annie De Groot will be presenting to the NIH/NIAID regarding next generation epitope-driven vaccines: "More Effector Epitopes, Less Heterologous Epitopes, and no T-regitopes?" The presentation will be hosted by David Sacks, PhD, Chief of Intracellular Parasite Biology Section for the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
While whole killed, whole protein, or live attenuated vaccines were the standard bearers for protective vaccines in the last century, there are some concerns about their safety, and, more recently, on their ability to "pre-set" the immune response to other challenges. Newer vaccine design techniques are contributing to an emphasis on vaccines developed using the minimum essential subset of T- and B-cell epitopes that comprise the "immunome". We have used bioinformatics sequence analysis tools, epitope -mapping tools, microarrays and high-throughput immunology assays to identify the minimal essential vaccine components for HIV, smallpox, tularemia, Helicobacter pylori and tuberculosis vaccines. This approach has resulted in the development of five immunome-derived epitope-driven vaccines (ID-EDV); three of five have been tested in viral or bacterial challenge models. Protective efficacies of 100% (vaccinia); 90% (H. Pylori) and 57% (tularemia) were achieved in HLA-transgenic (humanized) mouse models and the p27 knockout mouse (for H. pylori).
We are pursuing this approach because we believe that immunome-derived vaccines may have one significant advantage over conventional vaccines; the careful selection of the components should diminish undesired and unexpected immune responses to cross-reactive T cell epitopes. The successful identification of regulatory T cell epitopes, directly from protein sequences–using the same tools and techniques as for T- effector epitopes, will be presented. The implications for this finding in relation to vaccines for human pathogens will be open for discussion.