Two Target AIDS Vaccine:
HIV-1 gp120 harbors two distinct epitope targets for vaccine development: CD4i epitopes and the CD4 binding site itself. Induction of the CD4i epitopes typically is directly linked to the occupancy of the CD4 binding site and thus inaccessibility to immune scrutiny. We have discovered a novel peptide immuno-modulator of gp120 that binds without obscuring the CD4 binding site. This peptide however, allosterically induces the CD4i confomration thus producing for the first time a gp120 vaccine modality able to present both vaccine targets simultaneously. We are currently optimizing the peptide immuno-modulator to produce a robust Two Target AIDS Vaccine.
Reconstitution of Epitope Based Vaccines:
We have critically evaluated the co-crystals of viral spikes bound to their cognate receptors or neutralizing antibodies. The spike binding surfaces have been used as guides for the functional reconstitution of novel immunogens. Such immunogens are being developed for MERS CoV, Dengue and Zika viruses.
Systematic screening of disease defining polyclonal sera is being performed to study and explore the antibody response towards various viral infections (influenza, HCV, HIV and Dengue). For this we have combined phage display with Next Generation Sequencing to generate hundreds of millions of affininty selected peptide sequences. These are being analyzed through a pipeline of computational algorithms implementing Random Forrest machine learning applications that enable the identification of disease defining peptide features and their use in the study of the antibody response towards viruses.
High Throughput Multiplex Blood Screening:
Over 300,000 blood donations are collected in Israel each year and millions are collected in the United States annually. Transfusion Safety is based on the ability to efficiently screen donations so to disqualify contaminated sera. For this sera samples are serologically tested for a handful of pathogens, each one separately. We are implementing IgOme profiling to produce a multiplex platform that allows the simultaneous detection of tens to hundreds of pathogen-specific antibodies in a single blood sample. The use of DNA barcodes enables the screening of hundreds of blood samples in a single analysis.