Influenza and adaptive immunity
Conventional vaccines have saved countless lives over the past few centuries, but the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has reminded us that conventional strategies sometimes fall short. A main objective for the group is therefore to use immunological knowledge for development of improved vaccines.
About the group
The group performs research related to modulation of adaptive immune responses.
Influenza is the key disease model used, but we are also working with variable pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2. Our research includes investigations into both the immunological signatures of vaccine efficacy, as well as development of the next generation vaccines against infectious diseases.
Current vaccines are still mostly based on the principle established by Edward Jenner in the late 18th century: A less pathogenic version of a virus is injected to protect against the threatening version.
During the past year, we have witnessed a near paradigm shift for vaccine development against SARS-CoV-2, in that the vaccines are mostly based on only selected parts of the virus. This has enabled rapid development of efficient vaccines, and generated knowledge that will be highly valuable also for quenching of future pandemic threats.
Vaccine efficacy is dependent on the vaccine’s ability to induce the type of immune responses that are most relevant for protection against a particular virus. However, formation of immune responses will be affected by age, sex, health status, genetic background, as well as previous exposures to other viruses and bacteria.
A main objective for the group is to study immunological mechanisms behind protective immunity in selected parts of the population, and use the generated knowledge for development of improved vaccine formats against variable pathogens.
- Predicting vaccine efficacy in the context of a complex and diverse population. In brief, we will develop an in silico platform to enable rational choices of antigens and predicted outcomes of vaccination, factoring in genetic differences and previous antigenic exposures. The project is a collaboration with Victor Greiff (UiO), Morten Nielsen (Technical University of Denmark), Michael Meyer-Herman (Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany), Artur Rocha and Ademar Aguiar (INESC TEC), Henk-Jan van den Ham (Enpicom), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi.
Funded by the European Research Council. https://www.med.uio.no/klinmed/om/aktuelt/aktuelle-saker/2021/skal-forske-pa-hvordan-vaksiner-kan-bli-mer-tilpasset-hver-enkelt.html
- Development of an HLAII-targeted DNA vaccine that can rapidly be produced to protect against the emergence of an influenza virus with pandemic potential. This project is a continuation of vaccine development within K.G. Jebsen Center for Influenza Vaccine research, and is a collaboration with Dag Kvale, Bjarne Bogen, Rebecca Cox (University of Bergen), and Siri Mjaaland (The Norwegian Institute of Public Health). Funded by the Norwegian Research Council, Helse Sør-Øst, and the University of Oslo.
- We are presently facing an epidemic of obesity in the world, but there are large knowledge gaps with respect to the influence of obesity on infectious diseases. The aim for this project is to generate new knowledge on the quality of immune formation during obesity, and to develop a vaccine strategy that can award increased protection against infectious diseases during obesity. The project is a collaboration with Tuula Nyman and Stacey Schultz-Cherry (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, US).
Funded by Helse Sør-Øst.
- Broadly reactive antibodies against influenza could mediate protection against a range of different influenza subtypes, but their characteristics and mechanisms of action are not yet fully understood. This project examines the characteristics of broadly protective antibodies against influenza, with an aim of developing the next generation vaccines that can offer broad protection against highly variable viruses such as influenza. The project is a collaboration with David Nemazee (The Scripps Research Institute, San Diego, US).
Funded by the Norwegian Research Council.
- Development of Seasonal vaccine against influenza and coronavirus. Current vaccines are based on induction of neutralizing antibodies against surface proteins of influenza and coronaviruses, but these proteins are prone to mutations. We are developing a vaccine that can protect also against antigenically drifted strains of influenza and coronaviruses.
Funded by SPARK Norway.
- Development of broadly reactive vaccines based on epitope dilution, where a mixture of different antigens is used to promote formation of protective immune responses against shared regions at the expense of more immunodominant epitopes that are specific only for a particular virus antigen. This project is a collaboration with Bjarne Bogen. Funded by EU (H2020: INCENTIVE), and the University of Oslo.