THESIS DEFENSE — PUBLIC SEMINAR: An Investigation into Zika Live Attenuated Vaccine Development

Start Date & Time: 
Tuesday, 11 September, 2018 - 09:30
End Date & Time: 
Tuesday, 11 September, 2018 - 10:30
Venue: 

Amphitheatre,  Level 2, Duke-NUS

Speaker Details: 

KWEK SWEE SEN
IBM PhD PROGRAM (INTAKE 2014)

Synopsis: 

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus capable of vertical transmission, leading to the microcephaly outbreak in 2015-2016. The risks of fetal malformations and sexual transmission serve as great impetus for Zika vaccine development to protect women of child-bearing age from infection during pregnancy. Particularly, there is a need for live attenuated vaccines (LAVs) that are capable of inducing long-lasting humoral and cellular immunity that withstand the long intervals between ZIKV outbreaks. Using a ZIKV genetic variant isolated in our laboratory, we show that a systematic approach to screen for robust innate immune responses in monocyte-derived dendritic cells and attenuated infectivity in endothelial cells in vitro, predicted safety and immunogenicity in an animal model. Furthermore, we demonstrate that vaccine viremia duration is a functional determinant of the magnitude of neutralizing antibody response and should thus be an important selection criterion for LAV candidates. Collectively, this thesis proposes a pathway for selection of safe and immunogenic ZIKV LAV candidates for further clinical development.