With around 1.5 million deaths and nearly 10 million cases of illness every year and up to 2 billion people infected with its causal agent (the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria), tuberculosis remains a major public health issue. Our project is part of a European networked research initiative including numerous partners, which is aimed at accelerating the development of new tuberculosis vaccines.
We develop new adjuvants based on compounds belonging to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis wall. An adjuvant is a harmless substance that is capable of improving the protective response induced by vaccination.
We are an active partner in the Horizon2020 research project TBVAC2020, which brings together over 40 scientific teams throughout the world. This project is coordinated by TBVI (Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative), the aim of which is to develop new Tuberculosis vaccines.
The Mycobacterium tuberculosis wall is a complex structure characterised by the abundant presence of glycolipids unique to the family of mycobacteria, which are formed by long-chain fatty acids (so-called mycolic acids) linked to different carbohydrates. These glycolipids are important to ensure the growth of the bacteria, its survival and its pathogenic character.
We study the activation of the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis induced by infection, using synthetic glycolipids homologous to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis glycolipids. Our work has specifically enabled us to highlight the pro-inflammatory character of these mycobacterial glycolipids. This property makes these compounds potentially interesting candidates for the development of new adjuvants that could be used in new vaccines for various infectious diseases and in cancer immunotherapy.
We have prepared glycolipid and mycobacterial antigen formulations. The optimal formulations are tested for their protective potential during an experimental infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
For more information on the TBVI consortium and its objectives, please visit the TBVI website.