Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hi-tech vaccine designed by students shows promise against ulcer causing bacteria

Engineering vaccines against ulcer-causing bacteria to enhance immune defense brings victory to Slovenian synthetic biologists at the international competition at MIT

Almost half of the world population is infected with bacteria Helicobacter pylori which colonizes stomach, causing gastritis and ulcers and is recognized by WHO as a type I carcinogen.

Current antibacterial treatment, implemented after the seminal discovery that H. pylori infection is the underlying cause of ulcers, which brought the discoverers the Nobel Prize in 2005, requires combination of at least three different drugs to eliminate bacteria. However, it does not prevent reinfection, which often occurs within the family. Additionally, bacterial resistance decreases the efficiency of therapy. Effective vaccine against Helicobacter pylori is not available, although it could be a durable solution, particularly in a formulation affordable to the third world population.

Helicobacter is able to withstand the harsh environment of stomach and avoids immune recognition by making itself invisible to the cellular receptors by modifying several of its components such as those of the flagella, which it uses to propel within the lining of stomach and duodenum.

Team of undergraduate students of the University of Ljubljana, led by their mentors from the National Institute of Chemistry and University reported on the research project, aimed at preparing a hi-tech vaccine against Helicobacter. Their strategy was to modify the flagellin of Helicobacter pylori by transplanting segments of flagellin from another bacterium, which is able to efficiently activate cellular immune receptors. They managed to demonstrate that this type of modification makes flagellin of Helicobacter visible to the immune system. To increase the efficiency of immune response they added several segments of most important virulence factors of Helicobacter pylori to a synthetic vaccine. They prepared three different implementations of vaccine, including isolated proteins, DNA vaccine and modified bacteria that present polypeptides of Helicobacter at their surface. “We think that bacteria might be easiest to implement as the vaccine in remote areas, because you could just reconstitute lyophilized bacteria or bacterial ghosts, provided that the oral or mucosal vaccination would show adequate efficiency”, is optimistic Jerneja Mori, fourth grade student of microbiology at the Biotechnical Faculty.

Project was accomplished in five months from the idea to the demonstration of the proof of concept and was prepared as entry for the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM) held each year at MIT, Cambridge, USA. This year 84 teams from 21 countries including world’s best universities competed with their projects in synthetic biology. Six finalists (Slovenia, Harvard, Caltech, Freiburg, UC Berkeley and NYMU Taipei) presented their project to all participants and judges, coming from academia, biotech, pharmaceutical and science publishing companies. Slovenian teams had a row of successes at this competition, qualifying each time in the last three years among the finalists. This year their project was selected as the best in the track “Health and Medicine” and they also won the Grand Prize award in overall ranking.

Team leader prof. Roman Jerala, head of the Department of Biotechnology at the National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia explains: “I had some doubts whether it will be possible to demonstrate the proof of principle within such a short time. Nevertheless, students were extremely motivated and we were able to demonstrate activation of immune receptors and response in vivo against the proteins of Helicobacter pylori”. “Before we can state that vaccine is truly effective, we have to do much more work but current results are quite encouraging”, is optimistic mentor prof. Simon Horvat from the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana.

In addition to modified flagellin, Slovenian team proposed another approach which involved modifications of the signaling network of innate immune receptors. The power of this approach is that we can mimic synergistic activation of several TLRs by pathogenic microbes, while having the advantage of safety of a defined subunit vaccine. They have already filed two patent applications and are determined to continue to complete all the tests of the therapeutic efficiency of vaccine. “The ultimate goal would be to prepare a vaccine to eradicate Helicobacter pylori”, says Jan Lonzaric, student of biochemistry, who successfully presented the project at the competition.

Brigita Pirc | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Solid progress in carbon capture

27.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>