Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
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Improving vaccines for poultry: targeted delivery of multivalent viral antigens to distinct immune cells of different avian species

Project Description

Avian influenza viruses (AIV) continue to be responsible for severe economic losses in poultry production in many parts of the world and remain a credible threat to food security and public health. Farmed ducks can serve as a silent reservoir for the maintenance and shuttle of AIV between domestic poultry and migratory birds for long distance spread. Vaccination of ducks against AIV can reduce and even halt the endemic cycle of the disease. However, we lack effective vaccines that can induce strong protective immunity and reduce shedding of infectious virus from infected ducks.

This PhD project proposes to develop a novel vaccine technology to deliver protective antigens directly to duck immune cells so that a strong protective immune response against AIV can be induced in vaccinated birds. This research will utilise advanced molecular virology, immunology and vaccinology approaches: these include in silico prediction-based antigen design (broader cross-protective immunity against heterologous viruses), viral vector and nanoparticle-based vaccine delivery systems, and selective and targeted in situ delivery of antigens to duck immune cells that capture, process and present antigens for initiation and regulation of protective immune responses.

The generated knowledge and technology of this proposed research would provide a platform for improvement of vaccines against other important poultry, livestock and human pathogens. Availability of these novel, highly protective and cost-effective disease control tools and strategies should minimise the impact of infectious diseases on farmed animal and offer substantial indirect economic, public health, environmental and social benefits to the UK as well as globally.

TO APPLY: Full details of how to apply can be found on our website - click Visit Website.
For enquiries regarding the application process please email Admissions Enquiries - click Email Now.
For informal enquiries regarding this project please email the project supervisors noted above.
Please note: Due to the current COVID-19 situation there are likely to be delays with recruitment - please email Admissions Enquiries with any queries.

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded studentship open to science graduates with, or who anticipate obtaining, at least 2.1 or equivalent in relevant biological subject in undergraduate degree, or a Masters degree - subject to university regulations. Open to UK students and eligible EU students who qualify for home-rated fees - see Residential Eligibility Guidelines on website for details. Eligible students will receive minimum annual stipend of £15,285; university registration fees will be paid. Students without English as first language must provide evidence of IELTS score of 7.0, no less than 6.5 in subsections.


1. Shrestha A, Sadeyen J-R, Iqbal M (2018). Enhancing protective efficacy of poultry vaccines through targeted delivery of antigens to antigen-presenting cells. Vaccines 6 (4), 75.
2. Lukosaityte D, Sadeyen J-R, Shrestha A, Sealy JE, Bhat S, Chang P, Digard P and Iqbal M (2020). Engineered Recombinant Single Chain Variable Fragment of Monoclonal Antibody Provides Protection to Chickens Infected with H9N2 Avian Influenza. Vaccines, 8, 118; doi:10.3390/vaccines8010118
3. Jáuregui-Zúñiga, D.; Pedraza-Escalona, M.; Espino-Solís, G. P.; Quintero-Hernández, V.; Olvera-Rodríguez, A.; Díaz-Salinas, M. A.; López, S.; Possani, L. D. (2017). Targeting Antigens to Dec-205 on Dendritic Cells Induces a Higher Immune Response in Chickens: Hemagglutinin of Avian Influenza Virus Example. Res. Vet. Sci. 111, 55–62.
4. LH, P.; K, V. (2016). Antibody-Mediated Delivery of Antigen to Dendritic Cells. Immunother. 02 (02).
5. Cheong, C.; Choi, J.; Vitale, L.; He, L.-Z.; Trumpfheller, C.; Bozzacco, L.; Do, Y.; Nchinda, G.; Park, S. H.; Dandamudi, D. B.; et al. (2010). Improved Cellular and Humoral Immune Responses in Vivo Following Targeting of HIV Gag to Dendritic Cells within Human Anti – Human DEC205 Monoclonal Antibody. Blood, 116 (19), 3828–3838.

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