The Jenner Institute was founded in November 2005 in partnership with the Institute for Animal Health. Our Institute focuses both on diseases of humans and livestock. One of the founding principles of the Institute is the exploitation of synergies in the development of human and veterinary vaccines whereby new vaccine approaches can be tested in parallel in different species.
Jenner Institute Investigators, under the leadership of our Director Prof. Adrian Hill and through the support of many funders, are developing new vaccine candidates. New vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV are currently in field trials in the developing world.
In South Africa, MVA85A, the TB vaccine candidate developed by Jenner Investigator Prof Helen McShane, is given as a “boost” after babies have been vaccinated with BCG, the only currently available TB vaccine, in the hope that we will be able to improve protection against TB disease in these infants.
Our malaria vaccines are also tested for protective efficacy by infecting volunteers with a drug-sensitive strain of malaria and then counting malaria parasites in blood films. If the vaccine works the volunteer is protected and there will be no parasites in the blood. The volunteers are closely monitored and treated with highly effective anti-malarial drugs at the first sign of any infection.
Research is also underway on livestock vaccines against foot and mouth disease, avian influenza, bovine tuberculosis and other major causes of economic loss.
The Jenner Institute is part of the Nuffield Department of medicine at Oxford University. It was founded in 2005 and aims to develop vaccines for diseases of major global importance such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. We also have a partnership with the Institute for Animal Health, where we develop vaccines for animal diseases such as foot & mouth disease.
There are over 100 members of staff at the Jenner Institute, including PhD students, postdocs, research assistants, research nurses and clinical fellows. The work here covers all aspects of vaccine development from designing the vaccines to large scale manufacturing and clinical testing.
In the last 3 years our molecular biology lab has generated over 160 new poxvirus and adenovirus vaccine vectors. The viruses are grown in tissue culture, then purified from the cells and tested for purity and stability. Vaccines used in clinical trials are manufactured under sterile conditions at the clinical biomanufacturing facility which is located on the Churchill Hospital site.
Newly developed vaccines are given to healthy volunteers so we can check that they are safe and able to induce an immune response. Blood from the volunteers is taken to the laboratory where we look for immune responses to the vaccine using an ELISpot assay. The ELISpot assay measures responding white blood cells from the volunteers, each responder cell appears as a spot in the well of the plate which we count using an automated plate counter. Using a technique called Flow Cytometry we can look at the surface of individual white blood cells so we can really tease out the different cell populations responding to the vaccines.
Another thing we can do in Oxford is test whether our malaria vaccines are actually working by infecting people with malaria and counting parasites in blood films. If the vaccine works the volunteer is protected and we don't see any parasites in the blood.
We also work with scientists in Africa to give vaccines to people naturally exposed to malaria and TB. A third of the world's population are infected with TB and almost 2 million people die each year from the disease. In South Africa our collaborators at the South African Tuberculosis vaccine initiative have just vaccinated the last baby, baby number 2784 with MVA85A. We are giving MVA85A after babies have been vaccinated with BCG and hope we will be able to improve protection against tuberculosis disease in these infants.
If you are interested in collaborating with us, or joining us at the Jenner Institute, please contact us for further information.