Chronic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, AIDS and hepatitis cause millions of deaths and new infections worldwide every year. What are the similarities between these diseases? Could a vaccine be developed for all of them?.
Immunotherapy consists of stimulating the patient's own defences to fight against disease. In oncology, immunotherapy has been tested in mice using a non-specific vaccine that activates the immune system to fight cancer.
This project, led by the teams of doctors Christian Brander and Andreas Meyerhans, and which has received financial support from the CaixaResearch Call for Proposals in Health Research, is working to apply immunotherapy methods via a non-specific vaccine to chronic infectious diseases such as the AIDS virus and hepatitis B and C for which – except in the latter case – there is no curative treatment. These pathologies are also characterised by loss of T-cell function, an important type of defence against pathogens which, losing its antiviral capacity, allows the infectious agent to grow uncontrollably.
The project goal is to design a universal therapeutic vaccine that can unite the cure for various chronic viral infections. At present, patients with these diseases need lifelong medication with a type of treatment that has adverse effects on health and a high economic cost for health systems. A universal therapeutic vaccine could help to address this global challenge.
Christian Brander,Research Professor at ICREA, head of the IrsiCaixa Host Genetics and Cellular Immunity Group, and co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at AELIX Therapeutics.
Valentina Casella, post-doctoral researcher at the MELIS-UPF Infection Biology Lab.
Nieves Salinas, health editor of El Periódico de España.