17 March 2022 Work Package meetings

The first meeting of the year that also involved collaborators outside Örebro University was held in sections for work packages, focusing on advancements in the different research areas. The current work of the company Svenska Vaccine Fabriken was also introduced.

Recent advances in plant-based vaccines (work package 1 and 2)
The history of plant-based biopharmaceutical products was presented highlighting the first plant-derived vaccine that was approved in Canada. This vaccine contains virus-like particles of SARS-CoV-2, while other, mainly subunit vaccines are either in pre-clinical or clinical phases and provide valuable data for our Chlamydia trachomatis vaccine and tolerogen projects.

Tolerogenic proteins to treat autoimmune diseases (work package 2)
The method to develop transgenic plants expressing a tolerogenic protein was demonstrated emphasizing the benefits of this system, for example the low-cost production and the ease of administration (possible without medical training). The method to transform tobacco-related plants was explained clarifying that acquiring stable homozygous lines are needed to be tested in animal models, which may take a few months to achieve.

Expression of vaccine genes in probiotics (work package 3) 
Our strategy to express antigens of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in probiotic bacteria was presented along with successful development of four different constructs. The HIV protein production was confirmed by several methods and quantified to determine the yield of different probiotic bacterium strains. These data are essential to calculate dosages to be used in an animal model.

Langat virus as a mucosal TBEV vaccine (work package 4) 
The successful strategies to create an infectious clone of Langat virus were presented. After confirming their sequences, we plan to modify these viruses to induce protection against tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) infection on mucosal surfaces. A pilot animal experiment will start soon to determine the viraemia peak and optimise sample processing following inoculation with Langat virus, which will serve as a baseline for future experiments with our modified live virus vaccine candidates.

Applying the RVP system in TBEV vaccine development (work package 5) 
The method to construct reporter virus like particles (RVP) containing TBEV-specific proteins was presented along with an update on recent progress. The nucleotide sequences of target proteins combined with mucosal adjuvants were created and prepared to be cloned into a plasmid vector. We will transform competent bacteria with this plasmid and analyse production before proceeding to develop TBEV-specific RVPs.

Company presentation: Svenska Vaccin Fabriken (SVF) 
The representative of SVF introduced the pipeline of the company covering their hepatitis B and D, as well as their COVID-19 vaccine development. The objective of their hepatitis B and D vaccine is to eliminate both pathogens from the body by targeting essential antigens of the viruses. The COVID-19 vaccine of SVF targets multiple proteins of SARS-CoV-2 to induce both a strong humoral and cellular immune response and remain effective against new variants of concern.

We summarized the satisfying progress of our projects and planned to have our next meeting in June to be held as a workshop at Örebro University if the pandemic situation allows it.