Dr Migena Bregu is working as a Project Manager at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, coordinating a multi-national collaboration in vaccine discovery with applications for malaria, TB and AIDS funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative (GCGHi). This project brings together three academic and three biotech partners focused on developing "genetic adjuvants" to enhance the immunogenicity of vectored vaccines and on "thermostable platforms" to achieve vaccine formulations which do not rely on cold-storage. Dr Bregu has a DPhil in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford where she held a Wellcome Trust studentship at Brasenose College and later continued with post-doctoral research in DNA recombination under a Junior Research Fellowship awarded by Wolfson College, Oxford. She then went to work in science policy and management for the European Commission and as the Programme Manager of Biomolecular Sciences at the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Blogged on behalf of Milana Shapira and Sophia Doll
Dr. Migena Bregu’s presented examples of new generation vectored vaccines in the context of malaria, TB and HIV. She discussed the importance of genetic adjuvants (molecules encoded by the same vector as the antigen), especially when dealing with intracellular parasites. The second part of her talk focused on the importance of heat stable vaccines and the need for the development of thermostable technologies. These are especially relevant to developing countries where, according to the WHO, 50% of vaccines are wasted, mostly due to cold-chain technologies. Bregu explained how the use of sugars can be used to stabilise vaccines and presented how proof of concept had been established with the adenovirus. Using the technology, the virus was able to retain potency over six months, without refrigeration! The questions now remain as to whether the technology is scalable, suitable and adaptable for other cases.
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The presentations from the event will be made available from the 1st November.
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