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Vaccine Research

Global Pneumococcal Sequencing Project

The  purpose of the project is to examine the effect of the rollout of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on pneumococcal strains escaping the vaccine in developing countries. The project compares the whole genome sequences of the species before and after vaccination.

Professor Stephen Bentley in partnership with Lesley McGee of the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Robert Breiman of The Emory Global Health Institute are collaborating on this project which is funded by The Wellcome Trust and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As antimicrobial resistant strains have emerged following conjugate vaccination in developed countries, a further goal of the GPS project is to discover the mechanisms by which the pneumococcus evades antimicrobials in the context of species survival following conjugate vaccination in developing countries.

The project operates in South Africa, Gambia and Malawi.

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Modelling Long Term Immunisation Strategies for MenAfriVac®

Dr Caroline Trotter leads a project to investigate the optimal long-term immunisation strategies for a novel meningococcal group A conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac®) developed by the Meningitis Vaccine Project. MenAfriVac® was first introduced in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali in 2010 and continues to be rolled out across the African meningitis belt in mass campaigns targeting 1-29 year olds. Working with the World Health Organisation, the aim of the project is to develop mathematical models of meningococcal transmission and disease in order to simulate the effects of a range of immunisation policies, to determine how best to sustain the excellent protection from the initial cmapgians. Options include incorporating the vaccine into the routine childhood immunisation programme, conducting periodic mass campaigns or a combination.

An example run of the model that illustrates the periodic and irregular epidemics of NmA meningitis in the absence of vaccination (credit: Andromachi Karachaliou, University of Cambridge).

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Meningococcal Carriage in the African Meningitis Belt

Caroline Trotter is also closely involved in the African Meningococcal Carriage Consortium (MenAfriCar) that was established in 2009 to study meningococcal carriage across the African meningitis belt before and after the introduction of a new conjugate vaccine. Led by Professor Brian Greenwood (LSHTM) and funded through grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, over the past 6 years the MenAfriCar studies have been conducted in seven African countries. Caroline has worked as a senior epidemiologist and has been involved as a in the design and analysis of carriage, seroprevalence and vaccine effectiveness studies. Studies in Chad showed the remarkable effectiveness of MenAfriVac® in preventing both meningitis and group A carriage (Daugla et al, Lancet 2014) and carriage studies across the belt have illustrated the dynamic and diverse nature of meningococcal infection (MenAfriCar, in press).

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Safety and Immunogenicity of MenAfriVac When Given to Pregnant Women

Following a visit to The Gambia by a Cambridge delegation in September 2014, Dr Ed Clarke (PI, MRC Gambia), Dr Caroline Trotter (Cambridge) and others successfully applied to the Meningitis Research Foundation for funds to conduct a study to determine the safety and immunogenicity of MenAfriVac when given to pregnant women. The study will examine the effects of maternal vaccination on both the mothers and their infants by measuring antibodies against MenA and tetanus. Offering the vaccine in this way may provide protection to infants who are too young to be immunised in the routine programme (at 9 months of age) and boost herd protection by targeting mothers.

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Selection and Immunological Characterization of Adjuvant Compounds Obtained from Plants for Vaccine Formulations Against Bacterial Infection.

Dr Pietro Mastroeni has been awarded a Special Visiting Researcher Fellowship funded by Brazil’s National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) to research the immunological characterization of selected adjuvant compounds obtained from plants for vaccine formulations against bacterial infection. A visiting PhD student is visiting Cambridge as part of the project under the mentorship of Dr Maestreoni. The project is in partnership with Professor Jose’ Vitor Moreira Filho of the Federal University of Permanbuco.

The Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research is funded by the Wellcome Trust. In close collaboration with The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, it supports researchers working in public health and tropical medicine to develop their careers, and foster interchange between institutions in the UK and those based in low- and middle-income countries.