The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has established a Cooperative Research Center (CRC) at three institutions including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the University of California, Irvine; the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and the University of California (Davis) with a single goal to enhance and accelerate the development of vaccines for Chlamydia trachomatis genital infections. The new center will be funded over a 5-year, $10.1 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
C. trachomatis: The Most Common STD in America
As the most common sexually transmitted disease in America, ongoing attempts to control the disease via screening programs and antibiotic therapy have failed. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports ever growing numbers of C. trachomatis infections. Just in 2017, for example, more than 1.7 million cases were reported. Infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic abdominal pain, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Babies born from infected mothers can develop conjunctivitis and pneumonia.
Cooperative Research Center for NanoScaffold-based Chlamydia trachomatis Vaccines
The research study already underway is titled: “Cooperative Research Center for NanoScaffold-based Chlamydia trachomatis Vaccines” and began operations on Oct. 1, 2019. Led by Matt Coleman, an LLNL biomedical scientists, and Professor Luis M. de la Maza, a pathologist at UCI’s School of Medicine and a worldwide leading expert in chlamydia vaccinology. He has been researching this topic for nearly four decades.Other researchers involve UCI’s Ellena M. Peterson and Sukumar Pal.
The Investigational Vaccine
de la Maza’s lab is focusing on the use of the chlamydia outer membrane protein (MOMP) as the vaccine antigen. LLNL’s Coleman has developed methods to correctly fold membrane proteins in vitro reports the group’s press release. His team of scientists at LLNL will leverage nanotechnology—known as nanolipoprotein particles (NLPs)—for delivering the C. trachomatis vaccines. While at UC Davis, R. Holland Cheng’s lab will be utilizing cryo-electron microscopy to characterize the structure of the native C. trachomatis MOMP. This structural characterization will help to inform the formulation of the MOMP in NLPs, effectively tying together the efforts of the three collaborative research centers.
Matt Coleman, an LLNL biomedical scientists
Professor Luis M. de la Maza, a pathologist at UCI’s School of Medicine
R. Holland Cheng, UC Davis
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