To meet the dual threats of emerging infectious diseases and engineered biowarfare/bioterror agents, there is a pressing need for more efficient systems for vaccine development. TRIAD, or the Translational Immunology Research and Accelerated [Vaccine] Development program, based in the Biotechnology Program at the University of Rhode Island, has pioneered the development and application of an integrated """"""""gene to vaccine"""""""" in silico, in vitro and in vivo vaccine design program to address this need. TRIAD has selected Category A pathogens F. tularensis, Category B agents Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei, and emerging infectious diseases (HCV, H. pylori, tick borne diseases) as the focal point of this proposal. Using the TRIAD immunoinformatics Toolkit, TRIAD investigators will pursue the development of second generation epitope based immunme-derived vaccines for these pathogens, while addressing the failings of prior generations of epitope based vaccines. We will maximize payload quantity using validated immunoinformatics tools that permit selection of optimal T cell epitopes that are highly conserved and immunogenic. We will ensure payload quality by choosing epitopes that demonstrate antigenicity in human PBMC as well as protection in established murine models of disease/infection. We will select a combination of promiscuous Class II epitopes, and Class I supertype epitopes will provide >99% coverage of human populations. We will avoid cross-reactive epitopes and explore the role of regulatory T cells in the context of improving vaccine design. Where appropriate, we will combine our epitope-driven vaccines with broad-spectrum anti-LPS vaccines. We will optimize payload, delivery, formulation, and adjuvanting by exploring a range of delivery options [Dendritic cells, DEC205, DNA, electroporation, mucosal delivery). The TRIAD project aims to develop vaccines demonstrating broad spectrum activity include crossprotective and multiple component vaccines, and delivery technologies that have the potential to be effective against multiple emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Our efforts to merge rational design with recent advances in vaccine delivery will manifest in a coordinated toolkit and a cadre of informed users, who will be ready and able to apply the tools to discover new treatments for emerging infectious disease and biodefense.

Public Health Relevance

The Translational Immunology Research and Accelerated [Vaccine] Development (TRIAD) consortium will join forces to accelerate the development of safer, more efficient vaccines for biodefense and emerging infectious diseases. The TRIAD will also support the development of vaccine design methods that significantly reduce the time and cost required to bring medical countermeasures to market. PROJECT 1: Multi-intracellular Pathogen Epitope-based Vaccine (De Groot, A) PROJECT 1 DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): In the context of this proposal, we will use pre-existing defined epitopes for Francisella tularensis (FT), and using the core TRIAD vaccine design toolkit, define new epitopes for Burkholderia pseudomallei (BPM) and Burkholderia mallei (BM), the agents of meloidosis and glanders, respectively, for use in an epitope-based multipathogen prophylactic vaccine. FT has been listed as a Category A biological warfare agent as a result of World War II and Cold War-era biowarfare research. BPM, the etiological agent of meloidosis, is responsible for an estimated 20% of septicemias and approximately 40% of deaths due to bacterial sepsis in tropical regions of the world. BM, a related bacterium, also causes fatal infections (classified as glanders) in man and animals. Like FT, BM is highly infectious as an aerosol. All three pathogens (FT and BPM/BM) are intracellular bacteria and thus amenable to attack by cell-mediated immune response. The EpiMatrix epitope-based vaccine design platform has already yielded a prototype F. tularensis Type A (subsp. tularensis: SCHU S4) vaccine that confers 60% protection against heterologous lethal respiratory challenge with the live vaccine strain (LVS), an attenuated subsp. holarctica derivative. To our knowledge no subunit vaccine for tularemia has achieved a comparable level of protection in this well-developed lethal respiratory challenge model. This milestone was reached over the course of a 24 month funding period. The same vaccine design tools, made available in the context of this U19 program project, will facilitate the development a novel combined vaccine against the three pathogens. We will test the combined vaccine components, and optimize dose, delivery vehicle, and adjuvants, in a live challenge model. In addition to evaluating our epitope-driven vaccine, we will explore whether combining our FT/BPM/BM multi-pathogen vaccine with the anti-LPS vaccine developed by Dr. Steven Opal and colleagues will lead to improved protection against live challenge. The challenge studies will be carried out at NERCE in collaboration with Brown University (Steve Gregory, Steve Opal) investigators. This milestone-driven program will lead to proof-of-principle (evidence for protection against live challenge) and development of a licensable multi-pathogen biodefense vaccine within a five year time frame.

Public Health Relevance

Fransicella tularensis, Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei are included on the list of Category A (FT) and B bioterrorist agents (BPM, BM) due to concern about their potential for weaponizaton. Development and licensure of effective and safe vaccines for these biowarfare threats remains a valid but unmet NIAID and DoD objective.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Program--Cooperative Agreements (U19)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1-KS-I (J3))
Program Officer
Quill, Helen R
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University of Rhode Island
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
United States
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