We are pleased to present Dr Andrew Young to speak on A Platform Technology for Generating Subunit Vaccines Against Diverse Viral Pathogens

Date: 25th August 2022

Time: 12.30

Venue: AIBN Level 1 Seminar room or online via zoom

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The COVID-19 pandemic response has shown how vaccine platform technologies can be used to rapidly and effectively counteract a novel emerging infectious disease. The speed of development for mRNA and vector-based vaccines outpaced those of subunit vaccines, however, subunit vaccines can offer advantages in terms of safety and reduced dependence on cold chain transportation. During the outbreak, the University of Queensland SARS-CoV-2 subunit vaccine using the novel ‘molecular clamp’ technology was rapidly generated and showed success in early clinical trials but was unfortunately discontinued due to diagnostic interference on certain HIV antigen tests. Despite this setback, the technology remains an effective tool for rapidly generating effective vaccine candidates. The current talk will describe the application of the molecular clamp to four additional viruses from divergent taxonomic families: Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Ebola virus (EBOV), Lassa virus (LASV) and Nipah virus (NiV). The clamp streamlines subunit antigen production by both stabilising the immunologically important prefusion epitopes of trimeric viral fusion proteins while enabling purification without target-specific reagents by acting as an affinity tag. Conformations for each viral antigen were confirmed by monoclonal antibody binding, size exclusion chromatography and electron microscopy. Notably, all four antigens tested remained stable over four weeks of incubation at 40 °C. Of the four vaccines tested, a neutralising immune response was stimulated by clamp stabilised MERS-CoV spike, EBOV glycoprotein and NiV fusion protein. Only the clamp stabilised LASV glycoprotein precursor failed to elicit virus neutralising antibodies. MERS-CoV and EBOV vaccine candidates were both tested in animal models and found to provide protection against viral challenge.



Dr Andrew Young is a Postdoctorral Research Fellow, currently working on the development of subunit vaccines for common respiratory viral diseases. He completed his PhD at the University of Queensland in 2019 and has since been developing vaccines for Respiratory Syncytial Virus and human Metapneuovirus for biotech startup company, ViceBio. His PhD project focussed primarily on Ebola Virus, specifically the development of subunit vaccine candidates and diagnostics using the EBOV viral surface glycoprotein.

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