Project

Next-generation protein vaccines against infectious diseases

The gram-positive cocci Streptococcus pneumoniae causes pneumonia, otitis media, meningitis, and bacteremia in pediatric, elderly, and immunocompromised populations. Pneumococcal infection is the leading cause of pneumonia in children worldwide. Pneumococcal infections also occur frequently in at-risk populations including individuals with diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and sickle cell disease. In developed countries, pneumococcal infection is responsible for approximately 30% of all adult pneumonia cases and has a mortality rate of 11% to 40%. Due to this organism's impact on both morbidity and mortality in adults and children, healthcare efforts have relied on vaccines to reduce the rate of pneumococcal disease over the past 30 years. Vaccine research has focused on using immunogenic proteins and carbohydrates found on the pneumococcal surface as antigens.

Previous efforts to use protein vaccines were not successful as they only stimulated the human immune system.  New research from Dr. Pratik Shah reports discovery of… View full description

The gram-positive cocci Streptococcus pneumoniae causes pneumonia, otitis media, meningitis, and bacteremia in pediatric, elderly, and immunocompromised populations. Pneumococcal infection is the leading cause of pneumonia in children worldwide. Pneumococcal infections also occur frequently in at-risk populations including individuals with diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and sickle cell disease. In developed countries, pneumococcal infection is responsible for approximately 30% of all adult pneumonia cases and has a mortality rate of 11% to 40%. Due to this organism's impact on both morbidity and mortality in adults and children, healthcare efforts have relied on vaccines to reduce the rate of pneumococcal disease over the past 30 years. Vaccine research has focused on using immunogenic proteins and carbohydrates found on the pneumococcal surface as antigens.

Previous efforts to use protein vaccines were not successful as they only stimulated the human immune system.  New research from Dr. Pratik Shah reports discovery of new protein molecule to immunize children, currently utilized by government agencies in Brazil, China and the Gates foundation, to develop affordable vaccines for prevention of pneumococcal diseases.  Dr. Shah's approach cripples the bacterial nutrient acquisition and virulence pathways  in addition to promoting effective recognition by the host immune system .


Project 1:  Discovery of novel protein vaccine antigens protective against Streptococcus pneumoniae  pneumonia and invasive infections

  • Discovered a bacterial ABC transporter that results in significant protective immunity in mice against carriage, pneumonia and bacteremia
  • Protein antigen-PotD used by government of Brazil and China in vaccine development and awarded Raymond Sarber National Award for Discovery in Microbiology by American Society of Microbiology.

Project 2: Elucidate the role of host and bacterial polyamine metabolism in bacterial infections

  • Discovered polyamine biosynthesis and transport mechanisms are required for pneumococcal infection and are targets for prophylactic and therapeutic interventions