When an infectious microbe invades the body, the immune system recognizes it as foreign, destroys it and “remembers” it, preventing subsequent infections from the same microbe. Traditional vaccines either consist of killed microbes, live but weakened microbes, or only biological components of microbes; they aim to mimic this natural immune response.
However the generation of this ‘natural’ immune response will occur only by chance. Using immunoproteomics, we are able to detail the immune components of a “natural” immune response and these targets are then used to re-construct a vaccine that is designed to give the same immune response as if an individual had been exposed to the pathogen naturally and recovered from the infectious disease, i.e. post infectious protection.
Our synthetic vaccines convey a number of advantages/benefits over traditional vaccines including:
Stimulation of a cell-mediated immunity, resulting in preventative and therapeutic effects
Many traditional vaccines reduce infections by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies which attack the surface of a microbe and “flag” them for destruction. To provide protection, vaccines need to be administered weeks ahead of a disease outbreak and/or exposure to the pathogen and the antibodies then only reduce viral load rather than killing infectious cells.
In contrast, our vaccines activate a cell-mediated immune response, which targets and kills the viral producing factory cells.
Our vaccines are synthetic, meaning they do not use killed or weakened live pathogens and therefore could be safer to develop and use, particularly for people with weakened immune systems. The potential for side effects are also dramatically reduced.
Universal viral vaccines
At the centre of our viral vaccine design is the ability to synthesize multi-component vaccines; these contain several MHC class I peptides that are highly conserved between strains of viruses or between different viruses from the same family. Usually these peptides are derived from proteins that occur on the interior of the virus, rather than on its surface. This means that we can make “universal” vaccines to tackle a number of different viruses within a viral family, for example Dengue and Zika are just part of the flavivirus family that consists of 66 related viruses.
Rapid, cost-effective development and manufacture
Our ground-breaking technology enables us to develop and manufacture vaccines in less time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional vaccines.
No refrigeration requirements
Our vaccine components are stable at ambient temperatures, avoiding the need for refrigeration, reducing costs and enabling easy transportation to remote parts of the world where they are most needed. These properties are extremely relevant for infections, where the sporadic nature of outbreaks means vaccines must be available on demand.
Easy administration supports optimal uptake
Unlike traditional vaccines which are often administered via a hypodermic needle, our vaccines can be delivered by a novel microneedle skin patch technology; this means there is less need for medical professionals, or the need for travel to central health clinics, hence improving the vaccine uptake as compliance is a major challenge to providing vaccinations in developing settings.