The National Institutes of Health has awarded nearly $5.4 million to a collaborative team of scientists at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, Emory University, and Georgia Institute of Technology to develop vaccines for prevention of deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
The project focuses on the development of an effective vaccine for Ebola and Marburg virus infections, two members of a family named “filoviruses” because they produce long filamentous particles. Both viruses are considered potential bioterrorism threats. The vaccines will be tested in Texas Biomed’s high containment laboratories.
The lead investigators include Texas Biomed’s Jean L. Patterson, Ph.D., and Ricardo Carrion Jr., Ph.D.; Richard Compans, Ph.D., and Chinglai Yang, Ph.D., at Emory University; and Mark Prausnitz, Ph.D., at Georgia Tech.
“Our experience and expertise in select agent research, and in vaccine pre-clinical development, as well as with the Ebola virus itself is one of the reasons this project was successfully funded,” said Patterson, who chairs the Institute’s Department of Virology and Immunology.
“This award underscores the important international role played by Texas Biomed,” said Kenneth P. Trevett, the Institute’s president and CEO.
The Emory group has developed virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines to prevent virus infection, and has shown that the Ebola VLPs stimulate immune cell activity and induce strong antibody responses, indicating that such VLPs could be effective vaccines to induce protective immunity against infection. They also have found that immunization with a mixture of DNA and VLP vaccines induced higher levels of protective immune responses in comparison to immunization with either vaccine alone.
“We consider this to be one of the most promising and safest approaches to protecting against hemorrhagic fever viruses,” added Patterson.
Texas Biomed, formerly the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. Located on a 200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas, the Institute partners with hundreds of researchers and institutions around the world to develop vaccines and therapeutics against viral pathogens causing AIDS, hepatitis, herpes, hemorrhagic fevers, and a host of other illnesses. The Institute also has programs in the genetics of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, psychiatric disorders and other diseases. For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org.