A team of Canberra-based researchers, led by University of Canberra immunologist Michael Frese and adjunct professor in immunology Ian Ramshaw, is looking at generating vaccines and treatments against viruses such as Dengue virus and those that provoke a range of liver diseases.
Professor Ian Ramshaw and Dr Michael Frese discuss their work to develop new vaccines. Photo Michelle McAulay
“When you become infected with a virus, the body reacts by producing a protein called interferon which protects against viruses,” explained Professor Ramshaw.
“In most cases, the interferon controls the infection and allows the body to generate an effective immune response. However, if the production of interferon is late or not strong enough, the virus can overwhelm this early defense and cause serious disease.”
This early production of interferon slows down the viruses, which is a critical step in the generation of safe vaccines, Professor Ramshaw, who is also a professor in immunology at the Australian National University, said. The new vaccines are designed to deliver interferon directly to disease-infected cells within the body.
To assist in the development of these treatments, BioDiem Ltd, a Melbourne-based biotech company with extensive experience in the area of vaccines, has recently licensed this platform technology from the University of Canberra.
BioDiem will collaborate with the researchers to further develop the technology and evaluate new vaccines in clinical trials.
“There are many serious diseases lacking vaccines which could help so many patients each year around the world. This kind of private-tertiary partnership brings together our expertise in infectious disease vaccine development and global contact network with the scientific expertise at the University of Canberra, hopefully accelerating the development of important new medical technologies which will address patient populations in need”, said BioDiem CEO Julie Phillips.
The research will be undertaken at the University of Canberra’s Centre for Research in Therapeutic Solutions (CResTS).
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