27th February 2017
Vector Biology Unit at MPIIB joins the Infravec2 project: A European Commission 10M€ effort to fight mosquito-transmitted diseases
On February 14, the European Commission officially approved the Infravec2 project (http://www.infravec2.eu). This project will improve the European large-scale facilities (infrastructures) for research on mosquitoes and other insects (vectors) that carry human and animal diseases, and will promote sharing of the facilities by European researchers. The Infravec2 project is funded by the Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructure Program (http://ec.europa.eu/). Infravec2 (full project title, “Research Infrastructures for the control of vector-borne diseases”) is an international consortium of 24 partner institutions coordinated by the Institut Pasteur, Paris. The project will continue through 2021, and has a 10 million euro budget. The project kickoff meeting will be in Paris 15-17 March 2017.
Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other insects represent a major public health concern worldwide. The insects that carry these diseases are referred to as vectors. The illnesses include viral infections (such as dengue, Zika, and yellow fever), as well as parasitic diseases (such as malaria and leishmaniasis).
The Vector Biology Unit of the Max Plank Institute for Infection Biology (MPIIB) in Berlin Mitte brought to this project its expertise in mosquito immune system and its interactions with the deadly malaria parasites. The Vector Biology Unit headed by Dr. Elena A. Levashina, has established unique secure facilities for mosquito containment and experimental infections with Plasmodium parasites, as well as a cutting-edge genetic toolbox for functional studies in the African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae (Images).
Infravec2’s main aim is to link together sophisticated facilities essential for research advancement in insect vector biology, and to allow researchers and companies access to these rare resources through a simple request process. Other key insect facilities include field sites in Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas. Infravec2 will increase researchers’ and innovators’ access to these facilities to benefit research and public health. The project will also develop novel methods and innovative technologies to advance research in this critical area for European and global public and animal health.
Infravec2’s long-term goal is to build a lasting European network of facilities to control insect vector-borne disease. A robust infrastructure will be able to respond to current insect spread disease epidemics. Equally important, Infravec2 will also contribute to Europe’s ability to predict and prevent the future insect carried disease outbreaks. Infravec2 will accelerate European innovation in basic and translational insect borne disease research.
For additional information: email@example.com
INFRAVEC2 PROJECT PARTNERS
1 INSTITUT PASTEUR France http://www.pasteur.fr
2 UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW United Kingdom http://www.gla.ac.uk
3 POLO D' INNOVAZIONE DI GENOMICA, GENETICA E BIOLOGIA SCARL Italy http://www.pologgb.com
4 INSTITUT DE RECHERCHE POUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT France http://www.ird.fr
5 Institut Pasteur de Nouvelle-Calédonie New Caledonia http://www.institutpasteur.nc
6 UNIVERZITA KARLOVA Czech Republic http://www.cuni.cz
7 CENTRE DE COOPERATION INTERNATIONAL EN RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE POUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT France http://www.cirad.fr
8 IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE United Kingdom http://www.imperial.ac.uk
9 INSTITUT DE RECERCA I TECNOLOGIA AGROALIMENTARIES Spain http://www.irta.es
10 EUROPEAN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY LABORATORY Germany http://www.embl.org
11 THE PIRBRIGHT INSTITUTE LBG United Kingdom http://www.pirbright.ac.uk
12 CENTRO AGRICOLTURA E AMBIENTE GIORGIO NICOLI SRL Italy http://www.caa.it
13 TropIQ Health Sciences B.V. Netherlands http://www.tropIQ.nl
14 MAX PLANCK GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN E.V. Germany http://www.mpg.de
15 FOUNDATION FOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY HELLAS Greece http://www.forth.gr
16 STICHTING KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT Netherlands http://www.ru.nl
17 Univerzitet u Novom Sadu, Poljoprivredni fakultet Novi Sad Serbia http://polj.uns.ac.rs
18 UNIVERSITAET ZUERICH Switzerland http://www.uzh.ch
19 LIVERPOOL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE United Kingdom http://www.liv.ac.uk/lstm/lstm.html
20 INSTITUT PASTEUR DE DAKAR Senegal http://www.pasteur.sn
21 UNIVERSITE DES SCIENCES DES TECHNIQUES ET DES TECHNOLOGIES DE BAMAKO Mali http://www.usttb.edu.ml
22 Fondation Health Sciences e-Training Switzerland http://hset.bio-med.ch
23 WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY Netherlands http://www.wur.nl/en.htm
24 MINISTERE DE LA SANTE Burkina Faso http://www.sante.gov.bf/
10th December 2015
Emmanuelle Charpentier is honored with the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Association. We congratulate her to this important prize in German science More Information:
8th December 2015
Cross section through a fallopian tube organoid. Polarised epithelial cells are organized into a hollow sphere, forming a monolayer whose structure corresponds to that of the native fallopian tube epithelium.[less]
Cross section through a fallopian tube organoid. Polarised epithelial cells are organized into a hollow sphere, forming a monolayer whose structure corresponds to that of the native fallopian tube epithelium.
Fallopian tube organoids promise better understanding of ovarian cancer and infertility
A new way of growing fallopian tube cells in culture is expected to give a boost to our understanding and prevention of female gynecological diseases, such as infertility, inflammatory disease, and ovarian cancer. The tubes, which connect the ovaries with the uterus, are the site of fertilization but they are now also believed to be the site from which high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma originates – the deadliest form of gynecological cancer. From the open end of the tube early cancer cells appear to spread not only to the ovaries, but also to other organs in contact with the abdominal cavity. Ascending gynecological infections, on the other hand, can lead to inflammation, scarring and closure of the fallopian tubes, which frequently leads to infertility or ectopic pregnancies. Both ovarian cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease often start silently and are not diagnosed until the late stages, as the inner lining of the tube, the fallopian epithelium, is inaccessible to direct clinical examination.
Until now, research into the origins and etiology of the diseases has also been restricted because fallopian epithelial cells cannot readily be grown in the laboratory. Together with researchers at the gynecology centers of the Charitè University Hospital, a team led by Professor Thomas F. Meyer at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin has now harnessed a new method of growing human epithelial cells as hollow spheres, so called ‘organoids’, in order to culture cells from clinical fallopian tube samples. By adapting the culture conditions to the specific needs of the tissue, they were able to keep the adult stem cells of the fallopian tube alive, so that they continue to proliferate and produce the cells typical of this tissue. Importantly, the fallopian organoids have the same composition and structure as the epithelial lining of the tube. ‘We have learned not only how to achieve conditions that allow cells to develop all features present in the human body, but also how to control their specialization into the different cell types found in the fallopian tubes’ says Dr. Mirjana Kessler, the first author of a paper that just appeared in Nature Communications. ‘The fallopian tube represents a crucial organ for female health: it is accessible to pathogenic microbes such as Chlamydia and at the same time provides a conduit into the abdominal cavity. It is the site of origin of several clinically important diseases for women, such as ovarian cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.’
The new model should now enable scientists to investigate in detail different aspects of fallopian tube functions, such as its role in reproduction, impact of infections and the basic mechanisms behind serous ovarian carcinoma development offering numerous avenues of approach towards the development of much needed therapies and novel diagnostic tools.
Mirjana Kessler, Karen Hoffmann, Volker Brinkmann, Oliver Thieck, Susan Jackisch, Benjamin Toelle, Hilmar Berger, Hans-Joachim Mollenkopf, Mandy Mangler, Jalid Sehouli, Christina Fotopoulou, and Thomas F. Meyer (2015) The Notch and Wnt pathways regulate stemness and differentiation in human fallopian tube organoids, Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS9989
Prof. Dr. Thomas F. Meyer, Dr Rike Zietlow
8th July 2015
Tuberculosis vaccine candidate enters phase-2-trial
In the clinical trial HIV-exposed newborn infants are vaccinated with VPM1002
Enrollment of the first infant in a phase-2-clinical trial of a new vaccine to prevent tuberculosis has successfully started. VPM1002, the most advanced new tuberculosis vaccine in clinical development, will help curtail spread of life-threatening tuberculosis disease not only in endemic countries, but also in Europe. The new vaccine VPM1002 was co-developed by scientists from the Max Planck Society and Hannover-based VPM, a spin-off company from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research.
The vaccine candidate VPM1002 was recently out-licensed to Serum Institute of India Ltd., the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer according to number of doses sold. VPM1002 is developed by SIIL in collaboration with Vakzine Projekt Management GmbH (VPM). Adar C. Poonawalla, CEO and Executive Director of Serum Institute of India emphasizes that “Tuberculosis still remains a major public health problem and only a new and more effective vaccine can help to restrict the expansion of multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis and thus save the lives of millions of people each year. We are pleased with the start of this trial as it represents one more step in our efforts to continuously improve existing vaccines, and to make new, safe, efficacious and cost effective vaccines available to the world, especially for tuberculosis. This is also shown in our plans to start large trials with VPM1002 to address the challenges of relapsing tuberculosis in adults.”
Stefan H. E. Kaufmann, the Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, who was largely responsible for the scientific concept of VPM1002, adds: “The former BCG vaccine continues to be the most commonly administered vaccine. Although it can protect against certain forms of tuberculosis, its protective efficacy is insufficient and alarmingly, potential BCG-related adverse events in HIV-positive newborns frequently occur. BCG also poses a high risk for any infant born with congenital genetic immunodeficiency.” And he continues saying that the goal with VPM1002 is “to sharpen BCG’s blade, and make it safer and more efficacious for successful combat of tuberculosis.”
VPM1002 was modeled on an earlier tuberculosis vaccine called BCG – short for Bacillus Calmette–Guérin – that was first introduced in 1921, and since then has been given to millions of infants each year where tuberculosis is prevalent. What makes VPM1002 unique when compared with BCG is the fact that targeted genetic modifications make the vaccine much safer and more effective in preventing tuberculosis. A series of studies in animal models, and two separate phase-1-clinical trials in adults and one phase-2a-clinical trial in newborn infants, have already confirmed safety and have shown sufficient strengthening of the immune system against tuberculosis, thus raising hope for higher efficacy.
“Already during the phase-1-clinical trials in Europe and Africa, the new vaccine showed better tolerance and triggered a more targeted immune response than classical BCG. These promising findings were confirmed in a subsequent phase-2a-trial in newborns, our ultimate target group,” confirms Bernd Eisele, VPM’s CEO. “And now, enrolling the first infant in the current phase-2-clinical trial in HIV-exposed infants, that is, infants who need a safer and better vaccine the most, is a huge success. It brings us one important step closer to including the new vaccine in a global plan of action against tuberculosis by the end of this decade.”
The phase-2-clinical trial currently taking place in South Africa, a tuberculosis hotbed, commenced this June and is the first investigation of the vaccine in HIV-exposed infants. Especially HIV-exposed infants may suffer from severe adverse events after vaccination with the common BCG and therefore are in urgent need of a safer and more effective vaccine. According to the clinical trial’s principal investigators, Mark Cotton and Anneke Hesseling of Stellenbosch University and Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Center, Angelique Luabeya from the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative and Shabir Madhi of the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit, “this trial with VPM1002 is an important milestone in our global fight against tuberculosis’ deadly threat – the disease currently afflicts about two billion people.
Leander Grode, Kaufmann’s former research fellow and co-inventor, who has since become Chief Scientific Officer at VPM, contributed substantially to VPM1002’s development. “We have successfully modified the original vaccine in such a way that it is now better at activating the human immune system, thereby affording more protection and safeguarding against the tuberculosis pathogen,” Grode explains.
29th September 2014
Stefan H.E. Kaufmann has been named 2014 recipient of the Spinoza Chair in Medicine at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. He will deliver a keynote lecture and several Master classes between September 29 and October 1, 2014. The Spinoza Chair was established in 1995 by the University of Amsterdam Association on behalf of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Amsterdam to honour individuals for their outstanding achievements in medical research and patient care. Kaufmann is Founding and Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, Germany, where he heads the Department of Immunology. He is also Professor for Microbiology and Immunology at the Charité Clinics in Berlin. He is Past President of the German Society for Immunology, of the European Federation of Immunological Societies and of the International Union of Immunological Societies as well as member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He is Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, received the Doctor honoris causa from the University Marseilles, France and is recipient of numerous awards. Kaufmann is best known for his work on tuberculosis with an emphasis on rational design of a novel vaccine as well as diagnostic and prognostic biosignatures. He is the author of more than 700 scientific publications and has written several books and newspaper articles on the threat of infectious diseases and globalization.
5th July 2013
Infectious disease: New network model informs TB research (AOP)
A new network model of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, revealed in this week’s Nature, may help explain the pathogen’s ability to survive unnoticed within an apparently healthy host for decades. It is thought that the network, which reveals major insights about the pathogen’s biology, will help guide future research.
Rather than focussing on just one molecular component, James Galagan and colleagues used a systems biology approach to draft many of the different regulatory and molecular interactions that occur within M. tuberculosis. The regulatory network is based on 50 transcription factors, proteins that bind to DNA to influence gene expression, some of which are organised into ‘hubs’ where they interact with many genes at once. The metabolic component incorporates many different metabolites, lipids, proteins and messenger RNAs. Together, the different elements combine to help the bacterium adapt to the hypoxic host environment, a key feature in M. tuberculosis pathogenesis.
From their model, the authors were also able to predict patterns of gene expression linked to the hypoxic environment, and so identify putative regulators of the pathogen’s persistence. The predictive model is a first step towards systems modelling of M. tuberculosis, guiding efforts to define a more complete regulatory network.
From the point of view of Stefan H.E. Kaufmann of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology - the only European institute devoting major efforts to this NIH-supported project - this work lays the basis for the development of new intervention measures. The central hubs elucidated by this work, which control the expression of numerous genes, provide important targets for the development of new drugs. The threatening increase in the number of drug-resistant tuberculosis cases urgently calls for new drugs against tuberculosis.