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OET and Oxford Brookes University Collaborate in Pan-European Project 'NanoZoo' to Develop Vaccines

Novel vaccine platforms are urgently needed to produce efficacious, safe, low cost, and rapidly adaptable (‘plug-and-play’) vaccines to face the threat of zoonotic viral diseases in livestock. Protein nanoparticle vaccines e.g., the highly successful porcine circovirus and the human papillomavirus vaccines, are generally considered an optimal vaccine format because of their high efficacy and intrinsic safety. The aim of the NanoZoo project is to apply a protein nanoparticle vaccine platform for rapid response against zoonotic viruses in poultry and swine.

This technology involves expression of viral antigens in insect cells combined with antigen presentation on protein nanoparticles to induce a superior immune response. In the NanoZoo project, this approach will be applied for developing novel vaccines against important zoonotic viral diseases in poultry and emerging vector-borne zoonotic viral diseases in swine.

Viral glycoproteins will be expressed in insect cells using OET’s flashBAC baculovirus expression system to ensure correct folding and glycosylation of the antigen. The viral antigens will then be coupled onto protein nanoparticles to be evaluated in vaccination-challenge studies in animal models. The baculovirus expression system will be engineered as a very fast ‘plug-and-play’ platform to go in a single step from a synthetic gene to viral antigen production.

The NanoZoo project has been funded under the European ERA-net ICRAD programme that brings brings together academic (Oxford Brookes University, UK, Wageningen University, Netherlands and University of Copenhagen, Denmark) and industry experts in viral antigen expression (OET, UK), nanoparticle vaccines (AdaptVac, Denmark) and animal health (MSD Animal Health, Netherlands).

The overall goal of ICRAD (International Coordination of Research on Infectious Animal Diseases) is to support cross-cutting research and innovation to better understand zoonoses focusing on the animal-human-environment interface and by developing novel vaccine and diagnostics technology platforms to improve animal health and by consequence animal welfare.

The UK partners OBU and OET have been funded by a three-year £679k grant from DEFRA.

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