Researchers push forward frontiers of vaccine science

Using sophisticated gene sequencing and computing techniques, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the San Diego Supercomputer Center have achieved a first-of-its-kind glimpse into how the body’s immune system gears up to fight off infection. Their findings, published Feb. 13 in the journal Nature, could aid development of “rational vaccine design,” as well as improve detection, treatment and prevention of autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and cancer

DARPA and VUMC use high-throughput synthetic genes to hasten antibody discovery

Recent outbreaks of deadly viruses like Ebola, Zika and Monkeypox have shocked the world with their impact. In nature, the viruses typically lie dormant in their animal hosts, accruing mutations that change their genetic make-up significantly. Once an event occurs that allows the viruses to jump to humans, our immune systems are not prepared. The viruses spread rapidly, causing significant, life threatening infection, reminding us just how vulnerable we are to these diseases.

VUMC scientists ‘sprint’ to find anti-Zika antibodies

Scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and colleagues in Boston, Seattle and St. Louis are racing to develop — in a mere 90 days — a protective antibody-based treatment that can stop the spread of the Zika virus. This is the first of four “scientific sprints” sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the U.S. Department of Defense, under a five-year cooperative agreement worth up to $28 million that was signed last year.

The Washington Post Mentions Dr. Crowe in Marburg Article

“She has awesome antibodies,” said James Crowe, a Vanderbilt University immunologist who is among the researchers who isolated one particularly powerful antibody from Barnes. An experimental vaccine is now in development.  Read more at On a Bat’s Wing and a Prayer.

Therapeutic Promise of a Human Antibody Against West Nile Virus

Flaviviruses are single-stranded RNA-containing, enveloped viruses that are primarily transmitted by insects (Figure 1). They include important human pathogens such as dengue virus, Zika virus, yellow fever virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, and west Nile virus (WNV). The most effective means to control these viral illnesses is through the development of vaccines; however, this has only been achieved in the case of yellow fever.

Vanderbilt team uses cancer cells to fight West Nile virus.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center say they have used cancerous cells to mass produce a human antibody that can be used to “neutralize” West Nile virus, a mosquito-transferred illness that kills about 100 people in the U.S. each year. Their findings, revealed this week in a research paper published in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology, could lead to the first effective treatment for West Nile, according to a news release.

Nasal gene spray inspired by llama antibodies could prevent all types of flu

Four llama antibodies and a harmless virus: This outlandish recipe could be the basis of a nasal spray designed to foil infection from all strains of influenza. The spray, containing a virus engineered to make a protein derived from the llama antibodies, has passed its first animal test, protecting mice from every known flu strain that infects humans, a research team reports.  

Llamas may hold the key to a long-lasting flu jab

Llamas may hold the key to a long-lasting flu vaccine, research suggests.  Laboratory tests showed a protein produced by the fluffy animals, as well as camels, fought off the virus in mice.  Rodents were even protected against 60 strains of flu, which cause fever, headache and fatigue in humans, for more than nine months.  Currently, flu jabs protect against a maximum of four strains - meaning people can still be struck down by strains that were not predicted to be active.  The Belgian study has even raised hopes of a flu nasal spray, after the mice were equally protected when the vaccine w