On March 2015 Prof Arturo Reyes Sandoval and co-PI Dr Juan José Plata-Muñoz from partner institution Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, ITESM Campus Cd. de México, were awarded a Newton Fund Institutional Links grant worth £70,000 to support an initial dengue collaborative research project in 2015 with our Mexican partners ITESM, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), Universidad Michoacana San Nicolás de Hidalgo (UMSNH), and Laboratorio Estatal de Salud Pública de Michoacán (LESPM). This award will provide crucial seed funding for the exploration and strengthening of collaborative strategic partnerships with several high-profile Mexican institutions collaborating in the project “A study of cellular immune responses in humans against dengue virus (DENV) to inform vaccine development.”
Despite ongoing research, there are currently no licensed vaccines to prevent dengue infection. Most DENV vaccines in clinical development aim to induce protective antibodies to cover all four serotypes of the virus, but have shown disappointing efficacy. A novel approach, developed at the Jenner Institute and led by Arturo Reyes-Sandoval's group, aims to stimulate the T-cell response, the other branch of the immune system. This approach targets the Achilles heel of the dengue virus: its most essential and conserved parts, which do not change regardless of serotype. We have developed a bioinformatics approach to uncover the most conserved parts of DENV, and have designed an immunogen to be used as a universal vaccine to protect against all four strains.
We now must investigate whether this immunogen is truly universal. To address this question, we will establish the infrastructure and lay the basis to allow an analysis of blood samples from infected people from diverse areas of Mexico, and determine if their immune system reacts against the newly developed dengue immunogen. This proposal will support establishing a network to create and support the environment for the study.