Advancing new vaccines and vaccine formulations to prevent a range of infectious diseases.
The Maurice Wilkins Centre Infectious Diseases Theme supports continued studies in developing next generation vaccines for priority pathogens, such as Streptococcus pyogenes and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. MWC investigators are also conducting research into RNA vaccines, vaccines for viral infections such as hepatitis B, and bacterial infections such as Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Preventing Rheumatic Fever: Assessing novel vaccine formulations against Strep A infections
Streptococcus pyogenes or Group A Strep (GAS) infections are widespread in Aotearoa New Zealand and the pathogen continues to cause unacceptable rates of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and subsequent rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Māori and Pacific children.
Recently, MWC researchers have developed a vaccine against S. pyogenes — TeeVax — that targets the T-antigen found on the pathogen’s surface. Immunisation studies show promise that TeeVax can protect against all known Strep A strains. We are now investigating novel adjuvant compounds (compounds in vaccines that help to ‘boost’ the immune response to vaccination) to use with TeeVax and different modes of delivery in the development of Strep A vaccines. This will have important impacts on future vaccine design as we move towards bringing these to the clinic.
Generation of a gonorrhoea vaccine using the PilVax platform
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the development of effective treatments against Neisseria gonorrhoeae a global priority. Gonorrhoea (a disease caused by N. gonorrhoeae) has evolved many different resistance determinants to prevent the activity of all major classes of antibiotics. One of the remaining strategies to tackle this antibiotic resistant pathogen is the development of an effective vaccine, and MWC researchers will use their novel peptide delivery platform ‘PilVax’ to develop mucosal vaccines against gonorrhoea.