Project description

HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria alone account for 3.4 million deaths worldwide every year. Despite substantial efforts made in recent years, Poverty Related Diseases are still spreading. New therapeutic interventions are therefore urgently required to combat Poverty Related Diseases. The existence of a well-developed HIV/TB/Malaria infrastructure presents a prime opportunity to address other sexually transmitted diseases such as viral hepatitis efficiently and effectively.

The overall goal of the EURIPRED is to coordinate and integrate international resources into a single specialised infrastructure to support European HIV, TB, Malaria and Hepatitis B/ C virus studies from early drug, vaccine and microbicide discovery to clinical trials. Since the launch of the project in November 2013, this has been achieved by creating partnerships between European scientists and international research teams from disease endemic countries and strong collaborations between industry and public sector research. Although vaccines, drugs and microbicide research is being conducted in the European Union (EU) there is no single European infrastructure that brings international resources and facilities together to develop cost-effective products for the European market.

To underpin this need, EURIPRED has integrated worldwide resources to allow European access to shared reagents. This integrated approach has strengthened international cooperation, increase research capacity in EU and developing countries and significantly contribute to the European Research Area (ERA). By minimising fragmentation and duplication of research efforts and pooling fragmented resources, EURIPRED could improve European research efficiency and effectiveness.

EURIPRED will be built upon the highly successful model of the Centre for AIDS Reagents (CFAR), a twenty-three year old reagent initiative based at the National Institute of Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), a centre of the Medical Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority Agency (MHRA) and will comprise of a world-class team of experts and repositories with expertise in vaccine, microbicide and drug development for a range of infectious diseases. By engaging international scientific communities, EURIPRED can play a leading role in driving research forward in Europe and beyond.

EURIPRED is comprised of several work packages, each with their own objectives:

Resource Management and Quality Assurance
Aim is to ensure access to well-characterised and validated reagents and standards with readily accessible supporting data. Therefore stocks of reagents and standards will be managed and maintained, and target selection for new reagents and standards will be coordinated. Besides that, the EURIPRED project aims to harmonise processes through development of standard operating procedures, quality assurance processes and exchange best working practices that will accelerate the production and maintenance of new reagents and standards. A Virtual Institute will be set up to encourage the interaction between all stakeholders in the field of poverty related diseases and Hepatitis.

Networking with other groups and projects
Important part of EURIPRED is to network with international research programmes and projects to establish a wider network that will allow integration of HIV, Hepatitis, TB and Malaria research within Europe and promote jointly executed research activities on cross-cutting topics and resources that are not addressed directly by the individual projects represented in this network

Patient recruitment, Sample selection and Characterisation of Biological Materials
Within the EURIPRED project we will collect and characterise circulating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (M.tb.) from the UK, India, China, Russia, Spain and East Africa. Furthermore we will establish a comprehensive biobank of samples for trans-national access from the unique population in London UK. These pathogens will be genetically characterised at each location by DNA sequencing. We will characterise the neutralization activity of sera from HIV patients and HIV viral co-receptor usage. Also provision of biological materials and data to MHRA-NIBSC (CFAR), Lionex and Icosagen will take place for the development of novel reagents (e.g. peptides, recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies).

Development and Evaluation of Reference Reagents
The high genetic variability and rapid evolution of HIV, HBV, HCV, M. tuberculosis and P. falciparum represent important challenges for maintaining sensitive serological and nucleic acid tests for blood screening, epidemiological surveillance, vaccine development, and diagnosis and clinical management of infected individuals. The establishment of reference reagents and standards is therefore critical for the characterisation of pathogen properties and immune responses to diverse antigens. Greater availability of suitable reference reagents/standards across European and associated research institutions will help facilitate cross-validation of assays and internal standards across different laboratory platforms. So we aim to:

  • Identify, formulate and prepare a range of pathogen specific antigens and antibodies to be established as reference reagents / standards available for candidate vaccines research, assay development and calibration of internal reference
  • Produce and validate reference reagents/standards
  • Produce antigens, proteins, antibodies, peptide libraries and peptide arrays for the various pathogens.

Standardisation and Harmonisation of Assays
Objectives around this topic are:

  • To select key immunological assays currently used in vaccine development for TB, HIV and malaria that are in need of standardisation and qualification.
  • To undertake a series of standardisation and qualification experiments, to standardise and work towards qualification of these assays. Standardised control reagents arising from this project will be utilised in this work.
  • To define a standardized SOP for these key immunological assays which will be made widely available to the field for preclinical and clinical vaccine development, and QC purposes.

Access to Biological Reference Reagents and Services
Goal of EURIPRED is to maintain a repository for archiving and storage of clinical specimens, research biological materials and reference reagents. We want to provide service/training platforms for vaccine adjuvant formulation and peptide microarray screening and evaluation. In addition, as a centralised European resource we want to provide characterised, stable and sustainable biological materials and reference reagents/ standards to European scientific community for:

  • Use in immunoassays of clinical studies
  • Scientific research of infectious diseases and pathogen specific vaccines (including HIV, HBV, HCV, TB and malaria) development; assays development and calibration of internal references.

Dissemination and Training
EURIPRED will leverage on engaged researchers to open up their repositories that will support project efforts aimed at the development of vaccines, microbicides and drugs against HIV, Hepatitis, TB and Malaria. There will be a commitment to dialogue and connections with key research institutions to ensure their buy-in is sought and interest for engagement sustained. This WP will also look at ways to develop effective methods to disseminate synthesised information to global stakeholders using reports, briefs, project website and the virtual institute.
The EURIPRED partners will participate and present at global stakeholder workshops, meetings and international conferences to disseminate the output and services resulted from the project EURIPRED. Manuscripts will be submitted for peer-reviewed journals to showcase project findings. The training component comprising of workshops and laboratory exchanges is expected to create opportunities for scientists from candidate countries, new member states, and also from the developing countries, to become integrated into our project.

 

 

Free services ยป

Reference reagents / adjuvant & formulation studies / microarray facility

 

Contact

Dr Mei Mei Ho
Project coordinator
+44 (0) 1707 641473
mei.ho(at)nibsc.org