Traditional vaccines use whole killed viruses or weakened viruses to stimulate the immune response and create protective immunity. But sometimes you want to target immunity to specific parts of the virus and not to others. Or you may want to generate immunity against a protein that is not naturally immunogenic. We use the molecular modeling suite MOE to place antigenic loops on the surfaces of other proteins, stabilizing them and making them polyvalent for a better immune response.
Dengue virus attacks cells from the inside, after being engulfed by endocytosis. Most antibodies against dengue do not block its ability to infect from the inside, and they actually enhance infection by marking virus particles for endocytosis. Once inside the cell, the virus breaks out of its vesicle and commandeers the cellular machinery to make more virus. But antibodies against a specific loop in the virus capsid block infection. Our job is to create a polyvalent scaffold for the specific loop and attach it to an effective adjuvant to enhance the immune response to that one loop without getting those treasonous, infection enhancing antibodies.
Men who have been accidentally exposed to sperm in the blood, due to a vasectomy, for example, are immune infertile. If we can control immune infertility, make it long-lasting and reversible, then we would have a safe, non-hormonal, non-barrier, non-last-minute, inexpensive means of family planning that could work in both the female and the male. The antigens will be loops from the sperm-specific cation channel CatSper. When inserted into host loops in the capsid protein of human papilloma virus, they will raise antibodies that (hopefully) block hyperactive motility in human sperm, rendering them ineffective. A woman vaccinated against CatSper may temporarilly regain fertility by overdosing with the CatSper antigen.
SARS-CoV2, the virus that caused the current pandemic, has known epitopic sites that rais neutralizing antibodies. Many of these are on the receptor binding domain (RBD) od the spike glycoprotein. As an alternative to the current vaccines that are on the market, we are developing a chimeric-L1 construct that will target immunity to the neutralizing epitopes. The presence of glycans on many (if not all) of the COVID vaccines currently on the market creates a concern of