Progress

Work performed in the first 24 months of VADEMA

VADEMA is delivering a state-of-the-art Research Program in the competitive field of “infection biology” with the goal to identify novel strategies for efficient vaccine design. By bringing together the project partners’ expertise in mass spectrometry, vaccinology, and project management, VADEMA created a multidisciplinary environment in which four researchers will contribute to the development of a Structural Mass Spectrometry Platform for the identification of protective epitopes from antigens in native state

The grant is centered on two topics, the first one focuses on gaining conformational information of antigens in native state (i.e. those are present in the bacterial outer membrane) and the second one deals with dissecting the humoral response following infection or vaccination.

Conformational information of antigen in native state: The scientific and technological goals so far reached include the construction of a combination of a strong transcription promoter with an adequate chaperone to allow the expression and localization of membrane antigens in outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), the definition of a tag to enrich for  low expressed proteins compatible with the structural mass spectrometry protocol, and the set-up of a new protocol to separate lipids and proteins to enable mass spectrometry analysis.

Dissecting the humoral response following infection or vaccination: The basis for a new protocol for epitope mapping of a polyclonal population has been put in place. Moreover, two approaches have been defined to assess cooperativity and/or competition of a population of mAbs: The first one, successfully set in place, consisted in Fc glycosylation pattern characterization of mAbs. The second one consisted in the de novo sequencing of IgG purified from vaccinated subjects that is currently under development.

Training: The fellows are affiliated to the Drug Research Academy where they are benefiting from interactions with a wide and diverse scientific network within the academic and industrial pharmaceutical research community. The fellows are attending courses foreseen at the Graduate School in Copenhagen which make up the main curriculum for their Ph.D. Complementary courses on mass spectrometry and vaccinology will also be held during the fellowship. The fellows have the opportunity to participate to numerous seminars provided by worldly recognized scientists either by the University of Copenhagen or GSK Vaccines.

Transferable skills: At the same time, the students are acquiring transferable skills e.g. in scientific communication and presentation of scientific data, project management and intellectual property as well as fund raising and entrepreneurship which will equip them to become future leaders of academic or industrial research.