Dr. Stinchcomb started with an overview of Dengue Fever. This virus can escalate into hemorrhagic fever and is found in sub-tropical regions. Significantly, exposure to one type of Dengue can increase risk to the other kinds. This poses a challenge in creating an effective vaccine for the disease. Vaccine candidates for this disease were discussed. One example was CYD which neutralized all 4 Dengue types but did not protect equally among all which could cause long term problems. TDV, another vaccine candidate, is significant for evoking cellular responses. Throughout the lecture, there were descriptions of trial methodologies and how vaccine efficacy was tested with safety in mind. Dr. Stinchcomb mentioned an overview of what work IDRI is focusing on and what is expected in the future. One such project is vaccines for West Nile Virus. Birds act as a reservoir for this disease and humans can be infected from mosquitos. One vaccine suggestion for this virus is to target the viral envelope. Next, there was discussion about Chikungunya Disease. This disease is concerning as there has been rapid spread since 2005 due to a mutation causing greater transmission ability. The lead vaccine here is a mimicry of the entire quaternary structure of the virus. Lastly, Zika virus was discussed. It was interesting to hear some of the background of this disease and how it became a public health issue. Dr. S. presented IDRI’s work with creating a vaccine for Zika that has a platform that could be replicated for other purposes.
I enjoyed this lecture. I think that public health, especially pertaining to infection disease is a critical global issue. It was also interesting to get a look at vaccines from not only an academic perspective but also an industry perspective. This lecture was closely associated with the virology unit in class. The discussion of vaccines was just an extension and more detailed version of what was talked about in class. Specifically, the way in which vaccines are developed and how the structure of viral targets play a role. It was very eye-opening and saddening when Dr. S. mentioned all of the defects that have been identified with Zika. It makes sense that the threat has caused such an explosion of candidate vaccines for the disease. Dr. S. also introduced the idea of RNA vaccines. I was interested in this idea and I would like to know how the challenge of RNA instability could be overcome to make this style of vaccines more feasible?