Project: Immune responses in rural to urban gradient: identifying geographical footprints of the immune system to improve vaccine development

Acronym Geographical differences in the immune response (Reference Number: TMA2016CDF-1595)
Duration 01/07/2018 - 30/06/2021
Project Topic Critical to vaccine efficacy is the induction of a strong and long lasting immune response. The vaccine development pipeline needs to involve testing in African populations because of differences not only in genetic background, but importantly because of their very diverse environmental exposures, including chronic infections. As the immune system is central to the success of a vaccine and because of the recent indications that strong geographical differences may define immunological footprints, this will need to form an integral part of any serious attempt for vaccine development. It is becoming increasingly clear that strong differences exist in the immune system of populations living in different geographical areas, which goes beyond their genetic makeup. Indeed, in studies comparing immune responses of rural and urban Africans as well as matched Europeans, we have shown that there are major differences that cannot be accounted for by genetic variation only [1,2]. Investigation of the immune system of residents from rural Africa has shown important differences in strength of responses to stimulation when compared to those from residents of urban Africa or Europe. The findings so far, which form the basis of the current proposal, come from our field site in Senegal and show that it is feasible to have technologically demanding laboratory assays in a field applicable manner and working. At the Immunology Department of the Laboratory of Bacteriology and Virology of Cheikh Anta Diop University Hospital of Dakar, Senegal, a platform of resources is being used to conduct immunological investigations for various studies, including vaccine trials. The Parasitology Department of the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), with which we are collaborating, has developed a mass cytometry (CyTOF®) panel able to analyse over 36 immune markers simultaneously and possess Illunmina technology for analysis of gene transcriptional signatures of immune cells. In addition to methods of characterization of cell subsets and immune responses already implemented in Senegal, the candidate will be trained to use CyTOF® and Illumina technologies (including the important step of data analysis) to empower him and his institute to participate in the global effort for vaccine development. This proposal aims to investigate the role of environmental differences in immune responses relevant for vaccine development and to strengthen skills in West Africa in conducting in-depth immunological, molecular and bioinformatics analysis for vaccine responses.
Network EDCTP2
Call Career Development Fellowships 2016

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Université Cheikh Anta Diop Coordinator Senegal