Vaccines have had a major positive impact on public health world-wide through disease prevention that can be measured in millions of lives saved. Despite the successes, we still face major challenges in vaccine and immunotherapy development for global, neglected, or newly emerging diseases and in our understanding of the determinants of vaccine protection. To address these issues, the Institut Pasteur is harnessing its collective expertise that includes immunologists, microbiologists, virologists, epidemiologists, vaccine and immunotherapy specialists, in collaboration with the Institut Pasteur International Network, Institut Pasteur Medical Center, and external partners to launch the Vaccinology and Immunotherapy Initiative.
The Vaccinology and Immunotherapy Initiative addresses two major areas in vaccinology and immunotherapy that require immediate attention:
- New vaccine candidates and/or immunotherapies are needed to combat global diseases for which current approaches so far have failed, for neglected diseases, for new emerging infectious diseases, and for diseases with increased risk for antimicrobial resistance.
- How many currently used vaccines provide protection against disease remains poorly understood. The immunological mechanisms that operate in different individuals vary and a better understanding can help to design more effective vaccines and to identify potential non-responders that should receive additional medical attention.
Institut Pasteur has a distinguished history of vaccine development as a means to improve global health. Currently, five vaccine candidates are under clinical evaluation, either licensed to commercialization partners or under Institut Pasteur sponsorship. Building on this expertise and by integrating fundamental, translational, and innovative science, the Vaccinology and Immunotherapy Initiative pursues the following aims:
- To identify novel approaches, targets, and technologies for vaccines and vaccination as well as for immunotherapies.
- To accelerate vaccine and immunotherapy candidates from research to clinical trials and to engage development partners
- To gain a better understanding of underlying mechanisms in vaccinology and immunotherapy
- To enhance the knowledge, capacity, and public awareness in vaccinology and immunotherapy
- Create a “One-stop-shop” to nucleate activities for vaccinology and immunotherapy, to foster interdisciplinary collaboration integrating basic science, translational research and innovation, to guide match-making for projects requiring specific services or expertise, and to support building new and sustainable partnerships with industry, co-development organizations, and academic institutions.
- Promote fundamental research with potential for high impact on vaccinology and immunotherapy through ‘seed’ projects funded via institutional grants. Provide support for coordination of external calls with academic, clinical and industrial partners in key target areas.
- Launch the Institut Pasteur Innovation Accelerator. The Institut Pasteur Innovation Accelerator develops and guides the development strategies for potential products, provides industrial scientific guidance for application-targeted research, spearheads the search for funding, and coordinates activities with the aim to advance the projects to a readiness level that will facilitate technology transfer to commercial entities or co-development with large public funders. The Innovation Accelerator is co-piloted by the Scientific and Innovation directions and coordinates fundamental and translational activities in the four fields of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and technologies.
- Develop clinical research in vaccinology and immunotherapy to pursue programs to decipher vaccine responsiveness in normal and immunosuppressed individuals by integrating different approaches and linking the Vaccination Center at the Institut Pasteur Medical Center, the Labex Milieu Intérieur (healthy cohort studies using complementary approaches), immunology monitoring, the Center for Translational Research, and other collaborators.
- Promote and support teaching activities, as the Institut Pasteur International Vaccinology Course and the Vaccinology MOOC in collaboration with the Education Direction.
These aims and measures are embedded in ongoing world-wide vaccine and immunotherapy efforts and carried out in collaboration with leading institutes and initiatives, including the Vaccine Research Institute (VRI), European Vaccine Initiative (EVI), BioAster, Clinical Investigation Center (CIC) Cochin-Pasteur, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Wellcome Trust, European Commission, and industrial partners.