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UAB coordinates a European project on vaccine research

The STREP research project "Assessment of Structural Requirements in Complement-Mediated Bactericidal Events: Towards a Global Approach to the Selection of New Vaccine Candidates1, –BacAbs" has been recently launched by a consortium of nine institutions –academic and industrial- from six European countries, coordinated by Xavier Daura, ICREA Research Professor at the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine of UAB.

The project aims at implementing a novel multidisciplinary approach to investigate the requirements, at the molecular-structure level, for viable (bactericidal) candidates for vaccine assays and developing bioinformatics tools to predict compliance with such requirements, starting from information generated in previous projects by members of the consortium.

High throughput cloning and expression of large sets of genomic ORFs has become a preferred industrial strategy for genome-wide searches of new vaccine candidates. For invasive infections in particular, the aim is to find proteins eliciting antibodies capable of binding to the bacterial cell surface and, through interaction with the complement system, effectively kill the bacteria. However, current data accumulating from reverse vaccinology studies (targeting of possible vaccine candidates starting from genomic information) show that only a small fraction of surface-exposed proteins appears to elicit antibodies with bactericidal activity.

The BacAbs project will undertake a systematic analysis of sequence, structure, dynamics and interactions of selected protein targets using as model system serogroup-B Neisseria meningitidis, a pathogen causing septicemia and meningitis for which no effective vaccine exists.

The Consortium comprises an industrial partner with extensive experience on vaccine development –Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Italy-, three small or medium enterprises with strong expertises on several of the key technological aspects of the project –ASLA Biotech, Latvia; Bio-Xtal, France; INFOCIENCIA, Spain), and five academic partners with groups having internationally recognized tracks on experimental and theoretical studies of protein structure and interactions (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain; Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy; International University Bremen, Germany; Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy; Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands).

With a duration of three years, the project is supported by funding under the Sixth Research Framework Programme of the European Union.

Octavi López Coronado | alfa
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