BUSM/BMC researcher receives NIH grant to study gonococcal vaccine development

July 23, 2013

Boston -- Lee Wetzler, MD, an attending physician in the section of infectious diseases in the department of medicine at Boston Medical Center and associate program director for research in the section of infectious diseases at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), was awarded a four-year, $2.35 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the development of a gonococcal vaccine. This goal of this work, which is being done in collaboration with Scott Gray-Owen, PhD, at the University of Toronto, is to develop a new model for gonococcal vaccine evaluation and prioritize the feasibility of vaccine candidates to guide future research.

Wetzler, who also is a professor of medicine and associate professor of microbiology at BUSM, has a three-phase plan for developing a gonococcal vaccine. First he will analyze the immune response to vaginal gonococcal infection in laboratory models. The second phase is to determine whether infection with live or killed organisms will provide any protection in this model. The final phase is the evaluation of several vaccine candidates consisting of several bacterial outer membrane antigens.

For the past 30 years, researchers have unsuccessfully been working on the development of a gonococcal vaccine. Increasing antibiotic resistance has made the development of a vaccine for this disease vital and now urgent. The Centers for Disease Control now recommends only one class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhea due to antibiotic resistance in the previous alternative treatment options. Cases of resistance in this remaining class of antibiotics also are a worsening problem with treatment failures seen abroad though not yet in the US.

Wetzler and his team investigate innate and adaptive immunity -- primarily in regards to vaccine development. He has done extensive research and has more than 50 publications regarding mostly Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitides, the pathogens responsible for gonorrhea and a common cause of meningitis respectively. The team analyzes specific bacterial surface molecules in order to determine which antigens will trigger the appropriate host immune response seen in vaccination.

According to Wetzler, gonorrhea has numerous medical and public health repercussions. "This disease has potentially devastating outcomes specifically in women, causing pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal fibrosis and ectopic pregnancies. Additionally, concurrent gonorrhea infection in HIV patients facilitates the transmission of HIV by increasing viral replication," he said.

Worldwide 88 million new cases of gonorrhea develop each year. In the setting of limited treatment options, abatement of the disease via vaccine is crucial. Wetzler and his team are optimistic that over the next few years they will make significant headway in regards to prevent this widespread and morbid disease.

Boston University Medical Center

Related Immune Response Articles from Brightsurf:

Boosting chickens' own immune response could curb disease
Broiler chicken producers the world over are all too familiar with coccidiosis, a parasite-borne intestinal disease that stalls growth and winnows flocks.

Cells sacrifice themselves to boost immune response to viruses
Whether flu or coronavirus, it can take several days for the body to ramp up an effective response to a viral infection.

Children's immune response more effective against COVID-19
Children and adults exhibit distinct immune system responses to infection by the virus that causes COVID-19, a finding that helps explain why COVID-19 outcomes tend to be much worse in adults, researchers from Yale and Albert Einstein College of Medicine report Sept.

Which immune response could cause a vaccine against COVID-19?
Immune reactions caused by vaccination can help protect the organism, or sometimes may aggravate the condition.

Obesity may alter immune system response to COVID-19
Obesity may cause a hyperactive immune system response to COVID-19 infection that makes it difficult to fight off the virus, according to a new manuscript published in the Endocrine Society's journal, Endocrinology.

Immune response to Sars-Cov-2 following organ transplantation
Even patients with suppressed immune systems can achieve a strong immune response to Sars-Cov-2.

'Relaxed' T cells critical to immune response
Rice University researchers model the role of relaxation time as T cells bind to invaders or imposters, and how their ability to differentiate between the two triggers the body's immune system.

A novel mechanism that triggers a cellular immune response
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine present comprehensive evidence that supports a novel trigger for a cell-mediated response and propose a mechanism for its action.

Platelets exacerbate immune response
Platelets not only play a key role in blood clotting, but can also significantly intensify inflammatory processes.

How to boost immune response to vaccines in older people
Identifying interventions that improve vaccine efficacy in older persons is vital to deliver healthy ageing for an ageing population.

Read More: Immune Response News and Immune Response Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.