Attacking pathogens' Achilles heel to fight infectious diseases

Pathogens have evolved numerous methods to evade the host’s immune responses:

  • Mutation, to evade immune responses

  • Immunodominance, to distract immune responses

  • Steric shielding, to physically block immune responses

Despite these effective techniques, recent research efforts have uncovered genetically conserved “sites of vulnerability” on pathogens, against which effective immune responses may be generated. Targeting a pathogen’s sites of vulnerability holds promise because pathogens cannot mutate these sites without compromising their fitness.

Focusing the immune response against sites of vulnerability

Because these conserved sites of vulnerability are so critical to a pathogen’s existence, they use immunodominant decoy epitopes and steric shielding to hide these epitopes from host immune responses. However, structural vaccinologists have designed synthetic peptides recapitulating the minimal epitopes of pathogens’ sites of vulnerability. As immunogens, these constructs lay bare a pathogen’s neutralizing sites as prime targets for immune responses.

Avidea: delivering on the promise of minimal epitope immunogens 

Unfortunately, minimal epitope immunogens are- by themselves- poorly immunogenic, as they lack the ability to cross link B cell receptors and contain no pathogen-associated molecular patterns. However, Avidea Technologies has adapted its polymer-based vaccine technology to deliver these immunogens so they elicit potent immune responses.

By partnering with academic and government labs engaged in structure-based immunogen design, Avidea is custom-designing platforms to elicit neutralizing antibody responses against:

  • HIV-1

  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus

  • Influenza

Avidea customizes its nano-scaffolds to elicit specific immune responses needed to fight a given pathogen. With optimized epitope spacing and adjuvant immunostimulation, Avidea is designing infectious disease vaccines that can prime optimal antibody responses to prevent the acquisition of today’s most intractable pathogens.