Chimp viruses as a vector for human vaccines


Rome – A cold virus isolated from chimpanzees might work as an vector for human vaccines. Adenoviruses are principally suitable as vectors for vaccines for their ability to induce strong immune responses. But as most humans have already had contact with cold viruses, their trained immune system will dispose of the vectors before they have a chance to deliver their vaccine load.
Alfredo Nicosia of the Rome-based company Okairos may have found a way around that conundrum, as they report in Science Translational Medicine. The idea is that chimp adenoviruses might not be recognised by the human immune system but still retain their ability to induce a strong immune response. Nicosia and his team first isolated and characterised almost 30 different chimp adenovirus serotypes from some 1,000 stool samples. The defanged viruses were then tested for their immune response in mice, and the best ones were chosen for further development. “We’re working on different vaccines for Ebola, HIV, malaria, hepatitis C,” said Nicosia. “We wish to dedicate one specific chimpanzee derived serotype to one specific vaccine target” to avoid the possibility that antibodies induced by one vaccine vector might blunt the effect of another, he explained. Paul Klenerman of the University of Oxford, who is looking for a vaccine against Hepatitis C, already tried the adenoviruses on human volunteers. The chimp adenovirus-based HCV vaccine induced a strong T cell response. A second trial in high-risk individuals—intravenous drug users—has already started.



Rome/Milan – Together with two Italian research institutes, British drug giant Glaxo­SmithKline has begun to develop a therapy for the heriditary immune defect ADA-SCID, which affects only 350 children worldwide. Fondazione...



Rome – When it comes to GMOs, the gap between Italy’s federal government and its regions that has marked the country for years is rapidly widening into a gulf. The latest rupture was on display at the October session of the...



Valletta – A new Life Sciences Park is to be created on the outskirts of Malta’s capital Valletta. The EUR20m project will provide space for companies operating in biotechnology and medical sciences. The park will be located in...



Verona – Scientists at Glaxo­SmithKline in Verona have discovered that specific neurons in the amygdala control how mice react to fear stimuli. When they switched off the so-called Type I cells in the animals’ amyg­dala, the mice...



San Michele all’Adige – The genetic code of the Golden Delicious apple has been deciphered. Led by Riccardo Velasco at the Edmund Mach Foundation in San Michele all’Adige in Italy’s Trentino province, a team of scientists from 20...



: It’s hard to be a pro-GMO campaigner in Italy. Since 2001, the regions there have not implemented the plans for coexistence that were suggested by a ministerial decree. Instead, there was a de facto Italian moratorium on GM...



Milan – One of Italy’s biggest biotech players wants to raise EUR58m to boost its pipeline of cancer therapies. The round will be closed on July 16th. With operating costs of EUR22.5m and a total loss of about EUR17m in 2009,...



Milan – Italian researchers have restored sight to blind patients using stem cells from the patients’ own bodies. In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine (10.1056/NEJMoa0905955), scientists from Modena and...



Rome/Maryland – The Vatican has taken a bold step into unchartered territory with its decision to finance new research into the potential use of adult stem cells for the treatment of intestinal disease and possibly other...

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