Subunit vaccines to control several globally-important livestock parasite infections are under varying phases stages in their development. Scientists in the EU Horizon 2020 funded project, PARAGONE, are taking the most promising prototypes and testing them in further trials, as well testing some to investigate multivalent vaccines. For parasites for which effective recombinant vaccines have proved difficult to develop, fundamental immunological and antigen structure studies are being undertaken to inform on what host responses need to be stimulated to obtain protection. These studies are feeding into antigen format choice and the selection of delivery systems. Supported by strong training and dissemination activities, this project is taking the current best multicellular parasite vaccine prototypes towards pre-commercialization as well as developing a strong cohort of veterinary vaccinologists for the future.
The consortium held their Third Principal Meeting at the University of Cordoba in March 2018. The meeting immediately followed a Next Generation Workshop at the same locale by Dr Stew Burgess from Moredun Research Institute and Dr Adrian Carr from FIOS Genomics, Edinburgh. Hosted by Professors Jose Perez and Alvaro Martinez-Moreno from the University of Cordoba, the Consortium Meeting provided a vigorous platform for discussion on the progress of each of PARAGONE’s vaccine prototypes, as well as allowing an opportunity for all partners to network and discuss practical and commercialization implications for each vaccine. The meeting also encouraged early career scientists to contribute and to learn about opportunities for them in the final year of the project. Several sessions focused on cross-partner scientific and training activities. The meeting was attended by representatives from all consortium partners and Scientific Advisory Panel members, Prof. John Gilleard, (University of Calgary), Prof. Diana Williams (University of Liverpool), Mr. Peter Jeffreys (GALVMED), Prof. Richard Wall (University of Bristol) and Prof. Rick Maizels (University of Glasgow).
The meeting started with a scientific session focused on the helminth vaccine prototypes. In each talk, scientists from the lead group presented a summary of data from the start of the project. Sufficient time was given after each to enable the academic and industry partners to discuss progress against scientific and commercial aims. Scientific Advisory Panel members contributed to the discussions to share their experience and expertise and enable direct feedback. Vaccines against cattle gastrointestinal roundworms, liver fluke and Teladorsagia circumcincta were discussed. At the end of the session, the presenters came together in a panel to further discuss the prototypes and plans going forward for dissemination and demonstration activities.
Next, an Open Research Seminar was given by Guest Speaker, Prof. Eric Morgan (Queens University Belfast). Eric gave an excellent overview on exploiting statistical modeling to inform deployment of helminth vaccines.
In the second scientific session, presentations were made on vaccines for control of poultry red mite and Psoroptes ovis. The scientific leads presented a summary of their data, with input from other academic partners, industrial partners and Scientific Advisory Panel members. Similar to the morning session, after the talks, the speakers formed a panel for further discussion, facilitated by Scientific Advisory Panel member, Prof. John Gilleard.
There followed by a poster session for early career scientists, including PhD students and junior postdoctoral scientists. The quality of all posters was excellent and with generous financial support from Zoetis, the consortium was able to offer first and runner-up prizes to the posters of highest merit as judged as by the members of the Scientific Advisory Panel. First prize was awarded to Veronica Molina from the University of Cordoba for her poster on the immuno-pathology of liver fluke infection. Second prize was shared by presenters of two posters from the University of Las Palmas Gran Canaria, Tara Perez-Hernandez and Cynthia Machin, who presented their group’s work on the testing of the T. circumcincta prototype in Canarian breeds of sheep with different levels of resistance to nematodes.
On day two, the meeting focused on cross-Work Package activities; for example, training opportunities and workshops, demonstration and stakeholder activities led by the industrial partners, development of novel immunological tools led by SME, ImmTools, the development of bespoke bioinformatic analysis pipelines led FIOS Genomics, and the testing and assessment of adjuvants and new delivery systems, which spanned the activities of several partners. Also in this session was a presentation by Dr Rich Mole (Project Manager, Moredun Research Institute) and Prof. Jacqui Matthews (Coordinator, Moredun Research Institute) who gave an overview of progress of the project and an update on the internal and EU reporting systems. Most consortium members completed the meeting at this stage, but the projects Management Board and Scientific Advisory Panel members met on day three to discuss project reporting, dissemination, demonstration, innovation and training activities.
The Coordinators look forward to welcome the PARAGONE consortium back to Edinburgh for their final meeting in spring 2019. Where did the time go?