Epitope focused immunogens and recombinant antibody therapeutics for the control of tropical diseases
Tropical diseases in humans and livestock can cause death and remain a huge economic and social burden in developing countries. Currently, 3.6 billion people are at risk of dengue infection. Endemic in 100 countries, with an estimated 390 million annual infections and approximately 500,000 hospitalizations yearly, dengue fever is a worldwide challenge for public health officials and policymakers. East Coast fever is a tick-borne disease affecting cattle, caused by the protozoan parasite Theileria parva. With a 3–4 week incubation period and 100% mortality rate in exotic cattle, it has a devastating economic impact on pastoralists and smallholder farmers in Africa.
Combining cutting-edge immunology and protein engineering methods, this collaborative research project aims to develop affordable antibody-based therapies for dengue patients and improved vaccines for the control of dengue fever and East Coast fever in both humans and animals. The core technologies that will be employed reduce the use of animals in research and are easy and affordable to implement, which make these approaches particularly appealing to research groups based in low- and middle-income countries.
In Canada, the project is led by the University of Toronto, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University (Israel), the International Livestock Research Institute (Kenya), the SciGenom Labs (India), and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (USA). It was selected and approved for funding through the second research competition of the Joint Canada-Israel Health Research Program, a partnership between IDRC, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Israel Science Foundation, and the Azrieli Foundation. This seven-year, CA$35M Canadian-Israeli effort draws on the unique scientific strengths of both countries and facilitates networking opportunities with peers from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Projects include a plan for integrating researchers from low- and middle-income countries to establish long-term scientific relationships.
Joint Canada-Isreal health research program
This collaborative research program aimed to develop affordable antibody-based therapies and improved vaccines for the control of dengue fever (DF) and East Coast fever (ECF) in both humans and animals. The team combined immunology and protein and antibody engineering methods that have therapeutic and vaccination potential. Importantly, the core technologies reduce the use of research animals and are easy and affordable to implement. Another objective was to build capacity to enable scientists in the affected countries to explore these cutting-edge technologies for disease control independently, through an exchange of trainees between laboratories, technology transfer between laboratories, and dedicated training workshops in Africa.
Author(s): Santos, Fabiano