Cunbao Liu, PhD
Competition Sponsor: Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences
Award year: 2021
Morbidity of shingles among people older than 50 is 1-2%, among which 10-18% were associated with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). 15% of PHN focus at the eye meridian of trigeminal nerve and may result in blindness. Infection of the central nervous system may cause death from encephalitis. The live attenuated vaccine Zostavax based on Oka strain showed limited effect to prevent shingles. The subunit vaccine Shingrix is very expensive (150-200 USD per dose, 2 doses needed) and unavailable because of the short supply of its adjuvant QS21 (10 million doses worldwide annually). Novel affordable and effective shingles vaccine is in high demand. Based on the successful experiences on the development of various subunit vaccines and the frontier knowledge of immunology, here we propose a subunit vaccine design strategy according to the philosophy of bionics, i.e., to elicit an effective protective immunity targeting at a specific pathogen, a subunit vaccine should imitate the natural characters of the corresponding pathogens as much as possible. These characters including particle size, effective antigens, pathogen-associated molecule patterns (PAMPs), even the infection processes (such as the life process from endosome to cytoplasm). Our previous studies have proved that the efficacy of subunit vaccine depends on both of its physical form and the adjuvant contained. We will further testify our theory with highly biocompatible nanoscale materials and lay the preclinical foundation for the development of affordable and effective shingles vaccine.