What are we doing?
We design and develop new vaccines against infectious diseases of global health importance, focusing on five target diseases: pandemic influenza, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and meningitis.
Why is it important?
For most people living in the first decade of the 21st century, death from infectious diseases remains a substantial risk. The threat of global pandemics and the huge mortality from endemic diseases will continue to pose great challenges for vaccine research and development in coming decades.
How are we different?
By spanning the broad range of disciplines that underpin modern vaccinology, the Institute provides a range of expertise unparalleled elsewhere in academia.
Oxford Vaccine Centre Trials
Larger scale testing & evaluation of new vaccines near to deployment and study of the development of immunity is a particular strength of the department of paediatrics group headed by Andrew Pollard and based at the Oxford Vaccine Centre, part of the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine at the Churchill Hospital.
This Centre also provides strong links to Oxford’s leading overseas programmes on infectious diseases in Asia and Africa, and is also known for its conduct of volunteer challenge studies.
Pathogen Structure and Diversity
This area is key to vaccine insert design and creating vaccines that deal with the genetic diversity of pathogens. Oxford has particular strength in the population biology and structural biology aspects based in the South Parks Road sites with activities in the Zoology department, Medawar Building and Dunn School.
Martin Maiden (Zoology) leads a high profile programme on the genetic diversity of the bacteria that cause meningitis and has been collaborating with Andrew Pollard to develop new subunit vaccines for meningitis serogroup B against which there are currently no licensed vaccines.
Sunetra Gupta (Zoology) has championed new theoretical studies of bacterial and viral population structure with clear implications for vaccine design and deployment. These concepts are contributing to meningitis vaccine design and to strategies for use of influenza vaccine in the face of potential pandemics with an unknown and unpredictable influenza strain.
Susan Lea has recently published the structure of the Neisseria meningitidis factor H binding protein, a new vaccine candidate leading to a collaboration with Novaritis, the company developing this product (see award letter). Quentin Sattentau also been using structure-based vaccine design in assessing new HIV envelope-based vaccine candidates designed to induce rate protective nuetralising antibodies against this virus.
Inducing powerful immune response
The Jenner Institute Laboratories at the Old Road Campus have a major focus on developing vaccines that can induce the powerful immune responses required to protect against difficult pathogens, and assessing these vaccines in early stage clinical trials. The group focuses on creating novel vaccines for tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, hepatitis C and influenza.
Vaccine Health Economics
Assessments of the potential uptake and utility of new vaccines for developing country diseases, and rigorous analysis of new incentive structures for vaccine financing in resource poor settings is led in Oxford by Andrew Farlow of the economics department.
These considerations are increasingly important for all stages of vaccine design and development as funders increasingly seek the most cost-effective interventions for disease controls. Incisive health economic analysis can also increase private sector interest in disease once considered unprofitable for industry.
Adding a health economic framework to other vaccine development programmes should enhance the likelihood of innovative new vaccines reaching the populations that need them most.