How do vaccines stimulate the immune system, and how can we use this knowledge to develop more effective vaccines for future pandemics? Professor Adrian Hill, Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Vaccines, will discuss the diverse challenges of vaccine design and development, with particular reference to his group’s recent pioneering clinical trials of Ebola virus vaccines.
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About the speaker
Professor Adrian Hill is Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Vaccines, Director of the Jenner Institute, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford; and a Fellow of Magdalen College.
His detailed analyses of HLA polymorphism and malaria susceptibility in African children led to an interest in vaccine development, particularly assessing T cell-inducing vaccines against malaria. In murine studies he identified the enhanced T cell immunogenicity of non-replicating poxviruses as boosting agents in vaccination protocols. This led to phase I clinical trials of both DNA and MVA vaccines for malaria starting in 1999. His group showed the first T cell mediated protection of human vaccinees by using DNA-MVA and fowlpox-MVA prime-boost regimes against the liver-stage of malaria.
To achieve greater levels of protective efficacy his group is currently developing more immunogenic prime-boost regimes involving recombinant chimpanzee adenoviruses as priming agents and MVA as a boosting agent. This type of regime has now shown excellent immunogenicity in over 20 clinical trials for malaria with significant efficacy. More immunogenic vectored vaccines are being developed using new internal adjuvants that work well in viral vectors, along with a range of new liver-stage target antigens. A very promising new virus-like particle vaccine, R21, has been developed as an a potentially improved version of the leading RTS,S vaccine candidate and this will be combined with viral vectors targeting the liver-stage in upcoming clinical trials.
In 2014 his group led the first clinical trial of a monovalent Ebola virus vaccine aimed at targeting the outbreak strain of Ebola virus in West Africa.
Dr Hill’s immunogenetics programme includes genome-wide and exomic association studies of bacterial diseases, particularly tuberculosis, sepsis and pneumococcal disease. The group also has interests in susceptibility to Salmonella infections in Africa and to rheumatic heart disease in Pacific Islanders. A new programme is studying the genetic basis of variable responses to vaccination with several childhood vaccines.