The Network aims to promote multi-disciplinary approaches to address challenging vaccine-related questions. This page contains a curated list of publications that highlight high-impact and collaborative approaches.

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  • Journal article
    Aw R, Spice AJ, Polizzi K, 2020,

    Methods for expression of recombinant proteins using a Pichia pastoris cell-free system

    , Current protocols in protein science, Vol: 102, ISSN: 1934-3655

    Cell‐free protein synthesis is a powerful tool for engineering biology and has been utilized in many diverse applications, from biosensing and protein prototyping to biomanufacturing and the design of metabolic pathways. By exploiting host cellular machinery decoupled from cellular growth, proteins can be produced in vitro both on demand and rapidly. Eukaryotic cell‐free platforms are often neglected due to perceived complexity and low yields relative to their prokaryotic counterparts, despite providing a number of advantageous properties. The yeast Pichia pastoris (also known as Komagataella phaffii) is a particularly attractive eukaryotic host from which to generate cell‐free extracts, due to its ability to grow to high cell densities with high volumetric productivity, genetic tractability for strain engineering, and ability to perform post‐translational modifications. Here, we describe methods for conducting cell‐free protein synthesis using P. pastoris as the host, from preparing the cell lysates to protocols for both coupled and linked transcription‐translation reactions. By providing these methodologies, we hope to encourage the adoption of the platform by new and experienced users alike.

  • Journal article
    Moya-Ramirez I, Bouton C, Kontoravdi C, Polizzi Ket al., 2020,

    High resolution biosensor to test the capping level and integrity of mRNAs

    , Nucleic Acids Research, ISSN: 0305-1048
  • Journal article
    Thompson H, Hogan A, Walker P, White M, Cunnington A, Ockenhouse C, Ghani Aet al., 2020,

    Modelling the roles of antibody titre and avidity in protection from Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection following RTS,S/AS01 vaccination

    , Vaccine, Vol: 38, Pages: 7498-7507, ISSN: 0264-410X

    Anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres have been established as an essential indicator for evaluating the immunogenicity and protective capacity of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine. However, a new delayed-fractional dose regime of the vaccine was recently shown to increase vaccine efficacy, from 62.5% (95% CI 29.4–80.1%) under the original dosing schedule to 86.7% (95% CI, 66.8–94.6%) without a corresponding increase in antibody titres. Here we reanalyse the antibody data from this challenge trial to determine whether IgG avidity may help to explain efficacy better than IgG titre alone by adapting a within-host mathematical model of sporozoite inoculation. We demonstrate that a model incorporating titre and avidity provides a substantially better fit to the data than titre alone. These results also suggest that in individuals with a high antibody titre response that also show high avidity (both metrics in the top tercile of observed values) delayed-fractional vaccination provided near perfect protection upon first challenge (98.2% [95% Credible Interval 91.6–99.7%]). This finding suggests that the quality of the vaccine induced antibody response is likely to be an important determinant in the development of highly efficacious pre-erythrocytic vaccines against malaria.

  • Journal article
    Spice AJ, Aw R, Bracewell DG, Polizzi KMet al., 2020,

    Synthesis and assembly of Hepatitis B virus-like particles in a Pichia pastoris cell-free system

    , Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2296-4185

    Virus-like particles (VLPs) are supramolecular protein assemblies with the potential for unique and exciting applications in synthetic biology and medicine. Despite the attention VLPs have gained thus far, considerable limitations still persist in their production. Poorly scalable manufacturing technologies and inconsistent product architectures continue to restrict the full potential of VLPs. Cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) offers an alternative approach to VLP production and has already proven to be successful, albeit using extracts from a limited number of organisms. Using a recently developed Pichia pastoris-based CFPS system, we have demonstrated the production of the model Hepatitis B core antigen VLP as a proof-of-concept. The VLPs produced in the CFPS system were found to have comparable characteristics to those previously produced in vivo and in vitro. Additionally, we have developed a facile and rapid synthesis, assembly and purification methodology that could be applied as a rapid prototyping platform for vaccine development or synthetic biology applications. Overall the CFPS methodology allows far greater throughput, which will expedite the screening of optimal assembly conditions for more robust and stable VLPs. This approach could therefore support the characterization of larger sample sets to improve vaccine development efficiency.

  • Journal article
    Hogan AB, Winskill P, Verity R, Griffin J, Ghani Aet al., 2018,

    Modelling population-level impact to inform target product profiles for childhood malaria vaccines

    , BMC Medicine, Vol: 16, ISSN: 1741-7015

    BackgroundThe RTS,S/AS01 vaccine for Plasmodium falciparum malaria demonstrated moderate efficacy in 5–17-month-old children in phase 3 trials, and from 2018, the vaccine will be evaluated through a large-scale pilot implementation program. Work is ongoing to optimise this vaccine, with higher efficacy for a different schedule demonstrated in a phase 2a challenge study. The objective of our study was to investigate the population-level impact of a modified RTS,S/AS01 schedule and dose amount in order to inform the target product profile for a second-generation malaria vaccine.MethodsWe used a mathematical modelling approach as the basis for our study. We simulated the changing anti-circumsporozoite antibody titre following vaccination and related the titre to vaccine efficacy. We then implemented this efficacy profile within an individual-based model of malaria transmission. We compared initial efficacy, duration and dose timing, and evaluated the potential public health impact of a modified vaccine in children aged 5–17 months, measuring clinical cases averted in children younger than 5 years.ResultsIn the first decade of delivery, initial efficacy was associated with a higher reduction in childhood clinical cases compared to vaccine duration. This effect was more pronounced in high transmission settings and was due to the efficacy benefit occurring in younger ages where disease burden is highest. However, the low initial efficacy and long duration schedule averted more cases across all age cohorts if a longer time horizon was considered. We observed an age-shifting effect due to the changing immunological profile in higher transmission settings, in scenarios where initial efficacy was higher, and the fourth dose administered earlier.ConclusionsOur findings indicate that, for an imperfect childhood malaria vaccine with suboptimal efficacy, it may be advantageous to prioritise initial efficacy over duration. We predict that a modified vaccine could outpe

  • Journal article
    Sherrard-Smith E, Sala KA, Betancourt M, Upton LM, Angrisano F, Morin MJ, Ghani AC, Churcher TS, Blagborough AMet al., 2018,

    Synergy in anti-malarial pre-erythrocytic and transmission-blocking antibodies is achieved by reducing parasite density

    , eLife, Vol: 7, ISSN: 2050-084X

    Anti-malarial pre-erythrocytic vaccines (PEV) target transmission by inhibiting human infection but are currently partially protective. It has been posited, but never demonstrated, that co-administering transmission-blocking vaccines (TBV) would enhance malaria control. We hypothesized a mechanism that TBV could reduce parasite density in the mosquito salivary glands, thereby enhancing PEV efficacy. This was tested using a multigenerational population assay, passaging Plasmodium berghei to Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. A combined efficacy of 90.8% (86.7–94.2%) was observed in the PEV +TBV antibody group, higher than the estimated efficacy of 83.3% (95% CrI 79.1–87.0%) if the two antibodies acted independently. Higher PEV efficacy at lower mosquito parasite loads was observed, comprising the first direct evidence that co-administering anti-sporozoite and anti-transmission interventions act synergistically, enhancing PEV efficacy across a range of TBV doses and transmission intensities. Combining partially effective vaccines of differing anti-parasitic classes is a pragmatic, powerful way to accelerate malaria elimination efforts.

  • Journal article
    Mullineaux-Sanders C, Colins JW, Ruano-Gallego D, Levy M, Pevsner-Fischer M, Glegola-Madejska IT, Sagfors AM, Wong JLC, Elinav E, Crepin VF, Frankel GMet al., 2017,

    Citrobacter rodentium relies on commensals for colonization of the colonic mucosa

    , Cell Reports, Vol: 21, Pages: 3381-3389, ISSN: 2211-1247

    We investigated the role of commensals at the peak of infection with the colonic mouse pathogen Citrobacter rodentium. Bioluminescent and kanamycin (Kan)-resistant C. rodentium persisted avirulently in the cecal lumen of mice continuously treated with Kan. A single Kan treatment was sufficient to displace C. rodentium from the colonic mucosa, a phenomenon not observed following treatment with vancomycin (Van) or metronidazole (Met). Kan, Van, and Met induce distinct dysbiosis, suggesting C. rodentium relies on specific commensals for colonic colonization. Expression of the master virulence regulator ler is induced in germ-free mice, yet C. rodentium is only seen in the cecal lumen. Moreover, in conventional mice, a single Kan treatment was sufficient to displace C. rodentium constitutively expressing Ler from the colonic mucosa. These results show that expression of virulence genes is not sufficient for colonization of the colonic mucosa and that commensals are essential for a physiological infection course.

  • Journal article
    Johnson R, Ravenhall M, Pickard D, Dougan G, Byrne A, Frankel GMet al., 2017,

    Comparison of Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Typhimurium reveals typhoidal-specific responses to bile

    , Infection and Immunity, Vol: 86, ISSN: 0019-9567

    Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Typhimurium cause typhoid fever and gastroenteritis respectively. A unique feature of typhoid infection is asymptomatic carriage within the gallbladder, which is linked with S. Typhi transmission. Despite this, S. Typhi responses to bile have been poorly studied. RNA-Seq of S. Typhi Ty2 and a clinical S. Typhi isolate belonging to the globally dominant H58 lineage (129-0238), as well as S. Typhimurium 14028, revealed that 249, 389 and 453 genes respectively were differentially expressed in the presence of 3% bile compared to control cultures lacking bile. fad genes, the actP-acs operon, and putative sialic acid uptake and metabolism genes (t1787-t1790) were upregulated in all strains following bile exposure, which may represent adaptation to the small intestine environment. Genes within the Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1), encoding a type IIII secretion system (T3SS), and motility genes were significantly upregulated in both S. Typhi strains in bile, but downregulated in S. Typhimurium. Western blots of the SPI-1 proteins SipC, SipD, SopB and SopE validated the gene expression data. Consistent with this, bile significantly increased S. Typhi HeLa cell invasion whilst S. Typhimurium invasion was significantly repressed. Protein stability assays demonstrated that in S. Typhi the half-life of HilD, the dominant regulator of SPI-1, is three times longer in the presence of bile; this increase in stability was independent of the acetyltransferase Pat. Overall, we found that S. Typhi exhibits a specific response to bile, especially with regards to virulence gene expression, which could impact pathogenesis and transmission.

  • Journal article
    Parker EPK, Praharaj I, Zekavati A, Lazarus RP, Giri S, Operario DJ, Liu J, Iturriza-Gómara M, Kampmann B, John J, Kang G, Grassly NCet al., 2017,

    Influence of the intestinal microbiota on the immunogenicity of oral rotavirus vaccine given to infants in south India

    , Vaccine, Vol: 36, Pages: 264-272, ISSN: 0264-410X

    Oral rotavirus vaccines have consistently proven to be less immunogenic among infants in developing countries. Discrepancies in the intestinal microbiota, including a greater burden of enteropathogens and an altered commensal community composition, may contribute to this trend by inhibiting the replication of vaccine viruses. To test this possibility, we performed a nested case–control study in Vellore, India, in which we compared the intestinal microbiota of infants who responded serologically or not after two doses of Rotarix delivered at 6 and 10 weeks of age as part of a clinical trial (CTRI/2012/05/002677). The prevalence of 40 bacterial, viral, and eukaryotic pathogen targets was assessed in pre-vaccination stool samples from 325 infants using singleplex real-time PCR on a Taqman array card (TAC). In a subset of 170 infants, we assessed bacterial microbiota composition by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene V4 region. Contrary to expectations, responders were more likely than non-responders to harbor ≥1 bacterial enteropathogen at dose 1 (26% [40/156] vs 13% [21/157] of infants with TAC results who completed the study per protocol; χ2, P = .006), although this was not apparent at dose 2 (24% [38/158] vs 23% [36/158]; P = .790). Rotavirus shedding after dose 1 was negatively correlated with the replication of co-administered oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). We observed no consistent differences in composition or diversity of the 16S bacterial microbiota according to serological response, although rotavirus shedding was associated with slightly more bacterial taxa pre-vaccination. Overall, our findings demonstrate an inhibitory effect of co-administered OPV on the first dose of Rotarix, consistent with previous studies, but in the context of OPV co-administration we did not find a strong association between other components of the intestinal microbiota at the time of vaccination and Rotarix immunogenicity.

  • Journal article
    Portaliou AG, Tsolis KC, Loos MS, Balabanidou V, Rayo J, Tsirigotaki A, Crepin VF, Frankel G, Kalodimos CG, Karamanou S, Economou Aet al., 2017,

    Hierarchical protein targeting and secretion is controlled by an affinity switch in the type III secretion system of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli

    , EMBO JOURNAL, Vol: 36, Pages: 3517-3531, ISSN: 0261-4189

This data is extracted from the Web of Science and reproduced under a licence from Thomson Reuters. You may not copy or re-distribute this data in whole or in part without the written consent of the Science business of Thomson Reuters.

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