11 November Subproject meetings

11 November Subproject meetings
The last meeting of the year involving all participants of the project was held in sections for each subproject, where researchers from Örebro University shared their progression and plans. The event also included presentations from the companies NBAB and Valneva.

Subproject 1: Composition and formulation

Using the RVP platform for TBE vaccine development
The developed virus like particles were presented, which act like empty viruses and can be used as carriers for any gene of interest from the pathogens we target in this project. For example, by adding genes from tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus we can create reporter virus like particles (RVP) against TBE. We discussed the stability of this composition and the receptors it may use to enter the cells of the body.

HIV antigen expression in probiotics
The choice of antigen for our human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine was presented along with the formulation of the expression system using probiotic bacteria, which has a good potential for stopping the early phase pathogenesis. We discussed the challenges of creating and the opportunities for optimizing this system, for example using different plasmids for different bacterium strains.

Adjuvants and inflammasome induction, a new HÖG project 2022
A new project opportunity was introduced that may establish further collaboration between the attended research teams. The idea is to use our inflammasome models and flaviviruses to analyse different adjuvants and characterize their effects on inducing inflammation.

Subproject 2: Production

Antigen expression in plants; Induction of tolerance against multiple sclerosis
The advantages and disadvantages of expressing antigens in plants were presented including the challenges of different methods. These methods are utilized to test the expression of our model protein in close relatives of tobacco and edible plants.

Our antigen design to induce tolerance against multiple sclerosis was demonstrated. We debated how this tolerogen could be tracked in the gut and how much of it should be consumed to obtain the desired effect.

Infectious clone development, Langat virus
Four different strategies were presented to create an infectious clone of Langat virus using various molecular biological methods. The successful process would allow us to construct an attenuated variant to be used as a live attenuated vaccine.

Langat virus production and purification
The production, purification and quantification of Langat virus were demonstrated. The questions of scalability and possible modifications to improve purity were raised.

Subproject 3: Vaccination and evaluation

Chlamydia vaccine development and methodology
The results of the first animal experiment towards a Chlamydia vaccine development was presented. It was shown that the combination of our subunit vaccine and different adjuvants induced a humoral immune response with various intensity. There is also potential for a cellular immune response, which should be further elucidated by refining our methods.

TBEV vaccine development – a pilot experiment
The plan for the first animal experiment using Langat virus was presented. The aim of this pilot experiment is to determine the effects of our virus strain and optimise the methods of evaluation while focusing on the core question of the project by assessing mucosal immunization.

Company presentation: NBAB 
The representative of NBAB introduced the services of the company characterized by quality, speed and accuracy. They cover microbiological, molecular biological and biochemical services, as well as stability storage in a personalised way for small to medium sized companies.

Company presentation: Valneva 
The representatives of Valneva shared the perspective of the company on vaccine development. An overview of vaccine history and development phases were presented highlighting what changes were introduced to the industry due to the appearance of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) responsible for the still ongoing global pandemic. Different vaccine technologies were demonstrated including the biosafety level of certain stages of each method that ascertain secure development. Besides safety, quality is also a critical point, which aspects were discussed from manufacturing control to clinical trials. Two vaccine candidates of Valneva were presented as examples, the multivalent recombinant protein vaccine VLA15 against Lyme disease and the COVID-19 vaccine candidate VLA2001. The inactivated VLA2001 showed a very good safety profile and high efficiency in a pivotal phase 3 clinical trial and was further discussed from aspects of evaluation and strain specificity.

The meeting schedule for the spring semester was outlined, then the event was closed by the project leader