Influenza is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year and imposes a significant health and economical burdens. The rapid evolution of influenza viruses has prevented the development of a long-lasting universal vaccine, thus requiring an annual vaccination. Influenza vaccination has varying protective efficacy, particularly in young children and the elderly, which have a higher risk to develop severe disease. Throughout life, individuals are repeatedly exposed to influenza viruses through infections and vaccinations, leading to the development of an immunological memory consisting of both T-cells and B-cells. This immunological history is one of the major contributors to the variation of responses to influenza vaccines. Assays that will improve the ability to study immune responses to influenza infections and vaccination are highly needed and can assist to develop better vaccines.
We have developed a novel, sensitive and cost-effective antigen microarray, which will enable to profile the antibody repertoire to influenza vaccination and natural infection. Our antigen array will contain influenza –derived peptides, recombinant surface proteins and whole viral particles. Using serum samples from animals and humans, we generated influenza antibody profiles measured at baseline and post-vaccination and used these to predict vaccine-induced immune responses and outcomes such as vaccine efficacy and disease severity. To generate these arrays, we are screening thousands of potential antigens and develop statistical tools to identify a minimal set of antigens that can be used to profile influenza immunological history. A technological proof of concept was already established.
- As far as we are aware, there is no similar technology on the market and in development.
- The array will be accompanied by user-friendly software that will allow robust analysis of the results for biologists.
- The array can easily be tailored for different sub-populations and experimental designs.
Dr. Tomer Hertz, NIBN and the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel