Technology Networks | October 25, 2019
There is currently no vaccine for the Lassa arenavirus, which causes Lassa fever. This hemorrhagic fever, endemic in West Africa, infects up to 300,000 people each year. Given the urgency of the situation, scientists in the Biology of Viral Emerging Infections Unit and the Viral Genomics and Vaccination Unit at the Institut Pasteur evaluated the efficacy of several vaccine candidates. Following their analyses, they identified one of these vaccines, based on the measles platform, as being the most effective to enter clinical testing in humans as soon as possible. This raises hopes in the fight against a disease that claims between 5,000 and 6,000 lives every year. Lassa fever, a hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus (LASV), is responsible for several thousands of deaths in endemic countries in West Africa every year. The natural reservoir of the virus is a peridomestic rodent that lives near or inside homes, so contacts between humans and the infected reservoir in villages are frequent (see our disease fact sheet). Humans are generally infected by ingesting or inhaling material contaminated with the animal's excreta (urine or feces). Early diagnosis of Lassa fever is difficult to establish because the first symptoms are non-specific (fever, vomiting and nausea), and there is currently no treatment. Vaccinating the populations concerned is therefore the most promising strategy to deal with recurrent outbreaks of Lassa fever. The World Health Organization (WHO) has included Lassa fever in its R&D Blueprint list of epidemic threats needing urgent R&D action. Frédéric Tangy, Head of the Institut Pasteur's Viral Genomics and Vaccination Unit, said in an interview: "When it comes to vaccines, all the easy work has already been done, and the more difficult work has still not been completed. Fundamental research is vital for the development of new solutions."
European Pharmaceutical Review | September 30, 2019
Researchers have developed a series of lipid nanoparticles, which encapsulate RNA, for effective and improved vaccine delivery. Researchers have developed a series of lipid nanoparticles to deliver RNA vaccines accurately, to ensure the therapy reaches the correct immune cells and produces sufficient amounts of the encoded protein. A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US conducted the research into the vaccine. They say it also behaves like an “adjuvant”, boosting the effectiveness of the treatment. Using mouse models, the researchers showed that the RNA vaccine is successful in inhibiting the growth of melanoma tumours. “One of the key discoveries of this paper is that you can build RNA delivery lipids that can also activate the immune system in important ways,” says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor at MIT and the senior author of the study. Anderson’s lab has previously developed lipid nanoparticles for delivering RNA and DNA for a variety of applications. These lipid particles form tiny droplets that protect the RNA molecules and carry them to their destinations.
Pharmaceutical Technology | September 20, 2019
One approach to overcome continuing challenges facing drug research and development for Alzheimer’s is a vaccine. Swiss AC Immune has developed an Abeta-focused vaccine called ACI-24, which shown to be both effective and safe in pre-clinical models. As well as studying ACI-24 in Alzheimer’s patients, the company is investigating the candidate in Down syndrome patients who have a genetic predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s and are a more homogenous patient group. Believed to be caused by the build-up of plaques in the brain consisting of fibrillary amyloid beta (ABeta) peptides and neurofibrillary tangles of tau proteins, Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 50 million people globally and is the leading cause of dementia. Despite its prevalence, academic researchers and the pharmaceutical industry have struggled to develop effective therapies against Alzheimer’s disease, with many drugs failing in late stage clinical trials. Research carried out between 2002 and 2012 concluded that the condition has a 99.6% trial failure rate.