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cientistas de Cambridge ganhar milhões para nova vacina experimental contra o Ebola e outros vírus assassino

Cientistas da Universidade de Cambridge são definidas a julgamento uma nova vacina desenvolvida para combater o Ebola e outros vírus mortais como Marburg e Febre de Lassa. Após testes em animais bem sucedidos, a equipe de Cambridge foi premiado £ 2 milhões por Inovar Reino Unido e do Departamento de Saúde e Assistência Social a tomar a vacina para ensaios clínicos em seres humanos.

A nova vacina baseia-se em quase duas décadas de pesquisa para proteger contra doenças causadas por vírus RNA.

The Cambridge team will simultaneously start studying the natural animal reservoirs of the viruses in an attempt to try and predict which strains are likely to cause future outbreaks – information that will be essential for creating effective vaccines.

Ebola, Lassa and Marburg viruses cause haemorrhagic fever, leading to severe disease, often with high mortality rates.

Outbreaks can cause devastating local epidemics in the human population and to wildlife, including non-human primates.

A recente epidemia de Ebola na África Ocidental (2013-2016) matou mais 11,000 pessoas e devastou a infra-estrutura e as economias da Libéria, Serra Leoa e Guiné.

Professor Jonathan Heeney e seus colegas do Laboratório de Doenças Virais Zoonotics, Universidade de Cambridge, têm desenvolvido e testado com sucesso uma vacina trivalente em cobaias que protege contra Ebola, vírus Lassa e Marburg.

A pesquisa tem uma nova abordagem pioneira pelo professor Heeney e constrói sobre os pontos fortes de Cambridge em genômica, monoclonal antibody research and computational biology. It has led to the formation of DIOSynVax, a spin-out company of Cambridge Enterprise, the university’s commercialisation arm.

A virus’s genetic code is written into its RNA (just as ours is written into our DNA), which leads to the generation of proteins. When we are infected by a virus, our immune system responds to these proteins, known as ‘antigens’, producing antibodies that can identify and try to eliminate the invading pathogen.

The approach developed by Professor Heeney involves understanding how the immune system correctly identifies the virus from its proteins, and using this information to create ‘viruses’ that can generate an immune response. Using monoclonal antibodies – copies of antibodies taken from survivors of the target diseases – they can then test whether the body can effectively eliminate these fake viruses, leading to protection.

“Nós tomamos ciência fundamental que remonta quase duas décadas e desenvolveu uma nova abordagem para o desenvolvimento de vacinas,”Diz o professor Heeney.

“Isto tem o potencial de reduzir drasticamente o tempo necessário para produzir novas vacinas e mudar a maneira em que a indústria faz-los.”

Com o novo financiamento, a equipe espera aumentar a produção, assegurando que a qualidade da vacina é mantida. They will then carry out toxicity tests in animals and human blood samples to test for potential adverse effects; se bem sucedida, they will then trial the vaccine in healthy human volunteers.

The funding is part of a £5m commitment from the Department of Health and Social Care to fund five projects to develop new vaccines with a ‘One Health’ focus, considering how the environment, the health of animals and the health of humans interact.

This sits within the Government’s £120m UK aid commitment to develop vaccines to help tackle diseases with epidemic potential.

In recent Ebola outbreaks, the approach used successfully by the World Health Organisation is known as ‘ring vaccination’, focused on vaccinating and monitoring a ring of people around each infected individual.

Contudo, this approach can only be used in response to an outbreak. In order for a vaccine to be used proactively – to prevent an outbreak in the first place – it is necessary to predict which strain or strains of a virus are most likely to cause future epidemics.

“A disproportionally high number of emerging and re-emerging diseases – from Ebola and Lassa through to rabies and influenza – are caused by RNA viruses carried naturally by animals,”Diz o professor Heeney.

“We know very little about the viral diversity within these reservoir species and what enables them to spread to humans – and hence where the likely future threats lie.”

Viral genomes are notoriously variable due to the high mutation rates that occur during replication. These accumulate over time and result in evolution of the viruses as they circulate in their natural animal reservoir populations. If some viral variants arise and are able to adapt to use human cell receptors and are then able to escape immune defences, they may become highly infectious and cause large disease outbreaks.

“Vaccines are only as good as the antigen immune targets of the virus that they are designed for,” adds Professor Heeney.

“If the antigen changes, the vaccine will no longer be effective. Na maioria dos casos, current vaccine candidates against RNA viruses are from past human outbreaks with little or no information of future risks from viral variants carried in animal reservoirs, especially those with the potential for animal-to-human transmission.”

Professor Heeney has also received £1.4 million from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to lead a project that aims to predict where future outbreaks may arise from and the likely strains, and to then use this knowledge to inform vaccine design.

This One Health project enlists veterinarians, clínicos, ecologists and medical and public health workers in West Africa to understand how people catch Lassa fever from rat populations.

Their work will include trapping rat species that carry these viruses and placing GPS tags to monitor their movements, as well as obtaining molecular, genomic and antibody data from the animals and viral sequences from infected rats.

Professor Melanie Welham, executive chair of BBSRC, diz: “This important research from the team at the University of Cambridge is about providing effective treatments for some potentially deadly diseases spread by rats and bats: Lassa and Ebola respectively.

“Novel strategies to combat dangerous infections like these are essential and often underpin the development of much-needed next generation vaccines. Professor Heeney and team have already made a significant difference in this area, researching cross species transmissions of these viruses, with a view to developing vaccines for Ebola and Lassa that would be effective against multiple strains.”

The team is also collaborating with Professor James Wood, head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge, who is conducting a complementary study funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund to sample bat colonies in Ghana, believed to be a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus.

“Equipped with this information, devemos ser capazes de projetar melhores antígenos vacinais para vacinas mais eficazes e amplamente-protecção,”Diz o professor Heeney.

“Combinado com a nossa plataforma de desenvolvimento de vacinas acelerado, este tem o potencial de ter um enorme impacto positivo na saúde pública global “.


Fonte:

www.businessweekly.co.uk

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