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(BBSRC DTP) Developing a whipworm vaccine composed of virus-like particles expressing Trichuris T cell epitopes

Project Description

Vaccination is one of the greatest advances in global health; however most successful vaccines have been made empirically. We still have little insight into how many vaccines work and the mechanisms by which they trigger protective immune responses. Antigen delivery to the right antigen presenting cell is critically important for the quality of the T cell response. However targeting of specific antigen presenting cell populations is often ignored in vaccine design. Trichuris trichiura (whipworm) is a soil-transmitted helminth parasite that affects around 500 million people worldwide, resulting in disability and poor child development, especially in areas of poor hygiene and sanitation. Drugs have limited efficacy and there is no vaccine available. The ideal vaccine to protect against T. trichiura in humans would include protein epitopes that elicit a protective T helper cell type 2 immune response. We have been using bioinformatics tools to identify candidate histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) molecule T-cell epitopes from known Trichuris proteins. Virus-like particles (VLPs) containing these T cell epitopes have been cloned and expressed, purified, structurally analysed and tested in vivo for their capacity to protect the host against Trichuris infection. This multidisciplinary project will use a novel, module-based technology which combines specific antigens with monoclonal antibodies targeting specific receptors on DCs, on a modified VLP platform. These modified VLPs will provide a flexible experimental system to study and optimise the mechanisms through which vaccines first target the right antigen presenting cell population in order to stimulate effective T cell responses against the neglected tropical parasite.

Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website View Website

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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