Non-communicable Diseases Vaccine Programme

Programme Leader: Prof Martin Bachmann, Jenner Institute, University of Oxford



Artist impression VLP
Artist impression of the engineered cucumber mosaic virus-based virus-like particle, This platform has been specially modified to improve immune responses in low responders.


The burden of chronic and non-communicable diseases are a major cause of global morbidity and mortality and are typically associated with an increased risk with ageing.
Demographic trends show that global populations are not only increasing in numbers but also increased life expectancy.


Therefore, we expect to see an expansion in elderly people. The greatest increases in over 60-year-olds are forecast to be seen in developing countries. As an alternative to costly monoclonal antibody-based biologic drugs, vaccines represent an interesting and potentially more cost-effective therapeutic intervention. Of those in development, a class of recombinant vaccines based on virus-like particles (VLPs) are receiving great interest thanks to a number of advantages. These include:

1) VLPs and antigens attached to their surface induce reproducibly high antibody levels in humans (Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 366:2815). 

2) No adjuvants are necessary for the induction of potent antibody responses (Nat Rev Drug Discov. 3:81). 

3) Target-derived peptides can be displayed on VLPs resulting in the induction of strong antibody responses in the absence of measurable peptide-specific T cell responses (Nat Rev Immunol. 10:787-96). 

4) Our group and others have accumulated significant experience with the induction of self-specific antibodies using VLPs and no adverse event has been reported, nor have there been undue target-specific T cell responses observed (Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 49:303-26.).

The documented abilities of VLP-based vaccines to successfully induce strong and clinically relevant levels of self-specific antibodies have been repeatedly demonstrated in preclinical models and clinical studies. This is different from most other platforms where strong adjuvants not compatible with use in humans are employed for preclinical experiments resulting in failure to translate these observations from animals models to clinical efficacy in humans.

Our group is interested in utilizing VLPs to create novel vaccines for several non-communicable diseases.

Research Topics:

    1. Neurodegenerative diseases
    2. Anticytokine vaccines
    3. Chronic pain vaccines
    4. Allergy vaccines