Vaccines for Infectious Diseases
In spite of vaccine availability for the past five decades, whooping cough remains a childhood scourge with no available therapy for established disease. Caused by theBordetella pertussis bacterium, whooping cough is mediated by over twenty virulence factors, none of which provides a clear serological correlate of protection. In the United States, infection rates have increased dramatically over the last 20 years, increasingly detected in adolescents and adults. One explanation for this disturbing trend is that current acellular vaccines prevent disease but not bacterial colonization and induce short-term immunity as compared with whole cell vaccination or natural infection. This work relates to our to our long-term goals of identifying immune correlates in pertussis and contributing to development of more potent acellular vaccines.
We are pursuing two approaches to improve next generation vaccines:
1. Detailed analysis of antibody and T cell responses to specific epitopes on individual antigens to identify which epitopes are protective and may serve as serological correlates of protection.
2. Antigen engineering to improve production and stability & presentation of protective epitopes to the immune system