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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant

David Jans, Greg Moseley, Stephen Rawlinson


"Viral Self-Destruct Sequences: A Novel Vaccine Technology: Gregory Moseley, Stephen Rawlinson and David Jans at Monash University in Australia will engineer a live virus with a self-destruct sequence for use in a vaccine. This virus would be identical to a wild-type virus, but contain destabilizing domains fused to key proteins that can be regulated to first allow the virus to replicate and induce an immune response, and then be destroyed."

Prof David Jans, Dr Greg Moseley, Mr Stephen Rawlinson

Congratulations are extended to researchers Dr Greg Moseley, Mr Stephen Rawlinson and Professor David Jans. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have awarded these colleagues a $100,000 grant, to test a new vaccine technology.

Dr Greg Moseley stated that the aim is "to develop a new strategy for the production of live vaccine strains against lethal human pathogens. Initially we will work with rabies (>55,000 deaths/year, largely SE Asia and Africa, a large proportion being children) and Dengue (50 mill infections/year), but the technology, if successful, should be applicable to a large number of viruses including as a rapid response vaccine approach for newly emerged viruses."

Dr Moseley further explained that "the idea is to introduce 'self-destruct' domains into viruses. The domains are intrinsically unstable in cells and are destroyed in the cell unless a specific drug is present. If a protein is attached to the domain, it will be destroyed also. We will attach the domain to essential viral proteins; the proteins are critical for viral replication, but are not on the virus surface, so will not affect immunogenicity; also, the domain will be attached in such a way that the protein remains functional. This means that we will be able to make live, pathogenic virus which will induce a potent immune response, but only while the drug is present. Thus, people can be vaccinated with the modified virus combined with the drug, and the virus will replicate as if it is deadly wild type virus, producing a potent immune response. As the drug is depleted, however, the virus will be attenuated and then die off entirely. This is an intrinsically safe system as the virus depends on the drug to stay alive (rather than depending on the drug to be killed)."

Dr Moseley's, Mr Rawlinson's and Prof Jans' project is one of 78 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fourth funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. The grants were provided to scientists in 18 countries on six continents. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving almost 2,700 proposals in this round.

Link to Nuclear Signalling Laboratory