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The Development of a Plant-Expressed M2e-Based Universal Influenza Vaccine

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Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). The ectodomain of the matrix

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). The ectodomain of the matrix 2 protein (M2e) of influenza A, however, has demonstrated high levels of conservation. On its own it is poorly immunogenic and offers little protection against influenza infections, but by combining it with a potent adjuvant, this limitation may be overcome. Recombinant immune complexes, or antigens fused to antibodies that have been engineered to form incredibly immunogenic complexes with one another, were previously shown to be useful, immunogenic platforms for the presentation of various antigens and could provide the boost in immunogenicity that M2e needs to become a powerful universal influenza A vaccine. In this thesis, genetic constructs containing geminiviral replication proteins and coding for a consensus sequence of dimeric M2e fused to antibodies featuring complimentary epitopes and epitope tags were generated and used to transform Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The transformed bacteria was then used to cause Nicotiana benthamiana to transiently express M2e-RICs at very high levels, with enough RICs being gathered to evaluate their potency in future mouse trials. Future directions and areas for further research are discussed.

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2018-05

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Display of Domain III from Dengue 2 Envelope Protein on HBsAg Virus-like Particles Vectored by Measles Virus

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Dengue virus infects millions of people every year. Yet there is still no vaccine available to prevent it. Here we use a neutralizing epitope determinant on the dengue envelope (E) protein as an immunogen to be vectored by a measles

Dengue virus infects millions of people every year. Yet there is still no vaccine available to prevent it. Here we use a neutralizing epitope determinant on the dengue envelope (E) protein as an immunogen to be vectored by a measles virus (MV) vaccine. However the domain III (DIII) of the dengue 2 E protein is too small to be immunogenic by itself. In order for it to be displayed on a larger particle, it was inserted into the amino terminus of small hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg, S) coding sequence. To generate the recombinant MV vector and verify the efficiency of this concept, a reverse genetics system was used where the MV vectors express one or two additional transcription units to direct the assembly of hybrid HBsAg particles. Two types of recombinant measles virus were produced: pB(+)MVvac2(DIII-S,S)P and pB(+)MVvac2(DIII-S)N. Virus recovered from pB(+)MVvac2(DIII-S,S)P was viable. An ELISA assay was performed to demonstrate the expression and secretion of HBsAg. Supernatant from MVvac2(DIII-S,S)P infected cells confirmed that hybrid HBsAg-domain III particles with a density similar to traditional HBsAg particles were released. Characteristics of the subviral particle have been analyzed for the successful incorporation of domain III. The replication fitness of the recombinant MV was evaluated using multi-step growth kinetics and showed reduced replication fitness when compared to the parental strain MVvac2. This demonstrates that viral replication is hindered by the addition of the two inserts into MV genome. Further analysis of MVvac2(DIII-S)N is needed to justify immune response studies in a small animal model using both of the generated recombinant vectors.

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2014-05

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Fools and Madmen: Public Health and Personal Autonomy in Vaccination Practices

Description

Vaccine opposition is a growing problem in developed countries where dropping vaccination rates threaten general public health by laying the foundation for resurgence and reemergence of previously eradicated infectious diseases. This thesis argues that the current movement is only the

Vaccine opposition is a growing problem in developed countries where dropping vaccination rates threaten general public health by laying the foundation for resurgence and reemergence of previously eradicated infectious diseases. This thesis argues that the current movement is only the most recent incarnation of opposition that has co-evolved with vaccine practices for the duration of their mutual histories. Part one provides a historical context for the current movement using the example of the development and deployment of the smallpox vaccine as a representative timeline of vaccine acceptance and opposition. Part two describes the current movement in the United States and the United Kingdom, interprets the reasons for the conclusions drawn by vaccine-concerned parents, and provides a framework for public health officials to approach the issues.

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2013-12

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Investigate and characterize the means to reduce the toxicity of genetically engineered cancer therapeutic recombinant attenuated Salmonella

Description

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world and represents a tremendous burden on patients, families and societies. S. Typhimurium strains are specifically attracted to compounds produced by cancer cells and could overcome the traditional therapeutic

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world and represents a tremendous burden on patients, families and societies. S. Typhimurium strains are specifically attracted to compounds produced by cancer cells and could overcome the traditional therapeutic barrier. However, a major problem with using live attenuated Salmonella as anti-cancer agents is their toxicity at the dose required for therapeutic efficacy, but reducing the dose results in diminished efficacy. In this project, we explored novel means to reduce the toxicity of the recombinant attenuated Salmonella by genetically engineering those virulence factors to facilitate maximal colonization of tumor tissues and reduced fitness in normal tissues. We have constructed two sets of Salmonella strains. In the first set, each targeted gene was knocked out by deletion of the gene. In the second set, the predicted promoter region of each gene was replaced with a rhamnose-regulated promoter, which will cease the synthesis of these genes in vivo, a rhamnose-free environment.

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2013-05