Imperial College London
A collaboration between two non-profit organisations and London's Imperial College has produced a central 'reference' laboratory for measuring the performance of malaria vaccines.
The project will see Imperial work with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) to identify the capacity of different vaccine candidates to elicit an immune response against malaria in human clinical testing.
“Until now, malaria vaccine scientists have struggled to directly compare the cellular immune response elicited in humans by one vaccine to that of another, and this has hampered the ability to prioritise a portfolio of vaccine candidates," said David Kaslow, director, MVI.
IAVI will bring experience in standardised procedures for measuring vaccine-induced, cell-mediated immunity and work with IAVI and its laboratory partner at Imperial will develop two types of tests, or assays, for MVI and its collaborators.
The interferon-gamma ELISpot assay and a multi-colour flow cytometry assay will be used to detect the disease-fighting cells, which could be present in the blood of volunteers after vaccinations. The hope is these will help move vaccine candidates into clinical trials.
"These tests can provide quantitative information, such as how many cells responded to the vaccine, along with qualitative information, such as the different cell types that were stimulated," said Professor Gavin Screaton, head of the Department of Medicine at Imperial.
"Both types of information can be important in determining the power of the overall vaccine-induced immune response," he said.
Kaslow noted that while the collaboration with IAVI and Imperial will provide MVI with a central reference laboratory for measuring cell-mediated immune responses, he wants malaria vaccine developers to continue performing their own tests as well.
"At MVI, we need standardisation of these assays because when we analyse the results from various trials and look at the data on cell-mediated immunity, we need to be sure that any differences are not caused by variations in how the tests were done," Kaslow said.