Speedier new method of vaccine development created

A group of British researchers at the University of Exeter has developed a new screening process that can study possible deadly disease-causing bacteria that will lead to speedier development of vaccines.

This novel method of studying bacteria allows scientists to isolate and identify virulent parts of gene structures of pathogenic material. Utilizing this process gives scientists the opportunity to run over a thousand tests simultaneously to determine what genes from a pathogen attack the human blood cells that typically attack them, UPI reports.

“By looking at the results from these tests it is possible to determine which parts of a pathogen’s genetic code allow it to override immune systems,” Andrea Dowling, a member of Exeter’s Center for Ecology and Conservation, said, according to UPI. “From there we can focus in on those key areas to find out how the pathogen works and how we can develop vaccines.”

Dowling and other researchers at the University of Exeter have used the screening process to look at genes in the Burkholderia pseudomallei pathogen, which causes the potentially deadly disease melioidosis. The pathogen can infect people directly from the environment through grazes or cuts and bypasses the typical immune response to consume bacteria that occurs in the body.

The screen quickly gave researchers the parts of the pathogen’s genetic code that were responsible for its resistance to these parts of the human immune system.

“Knowledge gained from this research provides essential insights into how this poorly understood but extremely serious human pathogen works to cause disease, and, crucially, it helps us identify candidates for the development of much needed vaccines,” Professor Richard Ffrench-Constant, co-author of the research, said, according to an Exeter press release.