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Dr. Sherry Developing Vaccines for Animals and Humans

Dr. Barbara Sherry, Professor of Virology, is collaborating with ImmunoBiosciences, Inc. (IBI) to study how the biotechnology corporation’s Immune Complex Vaccine (ICV) technology can be used in developing vaccines for animal and human viruses.

IBI approached Dr. Sherry to work on the project based on her earlier vaccine work with Embrex, Inc. Embrex used ICV technology to develop poultry vaccines. One such vaccine (Bursaplex) is now used worldwide to protect against the devastating Infectious Bursal Disease Virus in chickens.

As it was developing Bursaplex, Embrex asked Dr. Sherry to investigate the feasibility of using ICV technology for mammalian vaccines. Dr. Sherry’s studies confirmed the validity of such an approach and IBI was launched to pursue ICV-based mammalian vaccines. Dr. Sherry’s current IBI collaboration involves developing vaccines against two pathogens: one veterinary and one human.

The first project is focused on Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis, a pathogen of cattle. Infected cattle harbor the latent virus, which can be reactivated by a range of stimuli, including stress. Most large feedlot operations vaccinate against the virus, but protection requires multiple administrations and outbreaks remain an issue. An ICV-based vaccine would circumvent many problems faced by current live and “killed” vaccines with expectations of greater safety in young animals and effectiveness even in the presence of maternal immunity.

The second project is focused on the human influenza virus. Despite the availability of several vaccines, seasonal influenza annually infects 5 to 20% of the U.S. population, resulting in more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths. While current vaccines protect many individuals, ICV technology offers three advantages: increased safety, a need for less virus during vaccine production, and the potential for cross-protection for different influenza virus strains. The last attribute could make annual vaccination unnecessary.

The research is part of the Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research located at the Centennial Biomedical Campus.

Posted Nov. 16, 2007