WINGS consortium meet in September at Isconova
September 14-15 Isconova hosted the consortium meeting of the EU-funded project “West Nile Integrated Shield Project” (WiNgS). The project aims to develop vaccines and diagnostics against the viral diseases West Nile fever and West Nile encephalitis that are caused by the West Nile virus (WNV). The consortium is led by the WNV expert Dr. Sebastian Ulbert from Fraunhofer Institute in Leipzig, Germany.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DR. MICHAEL S. DIAMOND
At the meeting in Uppsala the US WNV expert Dr. Michael S. Diamond from Washington University in St Louis also participated, and Isconova asked him a couple of questions:
Isconova: There have been many headlines regarding outbreaks of West Nile infection and disease recently, what is the status in the USA?
Dr. Diamond: 2636 cases of West Nile virus disease and 118 deaths have been reported this year until September 11, which is the highest number since the record year 2003. The short spring and hot summer has probably influenced the number of mosquitoes and in turn the number of infected people. WNV was only introduced to the USA in 1999, but since then it has spread all over USA and human cases have been recorded in all states.
Isconova: Is there a treatment for WNV on the market today?
Dr. Diamond: There is no treatment on the market today, although various experimental treatments are being tested.
Isconova: When can we expect a WNV vaccine to reach the market?
Dr. Diamond: There are good opportunities for developing West Nile Fever vaccines and several large vaccine companies have promising vaccines in development. An important issue is that a company would have to take a potential vaccine through very expensive clinical trials to reach the market. Because the trials would be challenging and expensive to implement, no company has yet committed to making this investment.
Isconova: Will adjuvants be important in future West Nile Fever Vaccines?
Dr. Diamond: Adjuvants might play a very important role in future vaccines to enhance efficacy from the vaccines. This could especially be relevant in regards to antigen sparing and for inactivated or subunit vaccines for the elderly and immunocompromised, as these are very important target populations to vaccinate.
Dr. Michael S. Diamond and Dr. Karin Lövgren-Bengtsson, CSO at Isconova
About the “West Nile Integrated Shield Project” (WINGS)
The project aims to develop vaccines and diagnostics against the viral disease “West Nile fever”. The main goals with the WINGS project are to develop innovative technologies, effective vaccine candidates and methods for safe diagnosis. The project is EU-funded and managed by the Fraunhofer Institute, department of cell therapy and immunology in Leipzig together with a number of partners in Europe and the US. Isconova leads the work of optimizing protein-based vaccine candidates using Isconova’s adjuvant Matrix-M™.