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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

Development of a vaccine against Fasciola hepática based on the use of bioinformatic tools 

Lead Researcher: 
Antonio Muro Álvarez 

Research Centre:  
Centro de Investigación de Enfermedades Tropicales de la Universidad de Salamanca (CIETUS). Salamanca. (Spain).

Antonio MuroCurrently there are no adequate controls against the infection caused by Fasciola hepatica. The resistance to drugs of choice, the lack of effective and environmentally safe molluscicides and the still low level of protection with the vaccines tested all raise the need for new prevention strategies. Although the Fasciola hepatica genome is still unknown, over recent years more than 200 cDNA sequences and their corresponding recombinant proteins have been described and scored. Based on current powerful bioinformatics tools, the project aims to design a rational strategy to identify peptides derived from the known sequences of F. hepatica. These peptides were tested in combination with immunomodulators and modern and effective adjuvants, selected by the research group in previous projects. To carry out this project the following objectives are proposed: (i) Selection of genes using bioinformatics tools from molecules released from F. hepatica showing signal peptide and transmembrane domain; (ii) Identification of peptides from the previously selected sequences of the conserved regions containing B, T epitopes and catalytic sites; (iii) Synthesis of previously selected peptides; (iv) Assessment of immunological response induced by peptides in combination with new immunomodulators and adjuvants; (v) Selection of interim peptides using antibody-mediated cellular cytotoxicity methods; (vi) Study of vaccine peptides using in vivo vaccination trials in experimental fasciolosis models; (vii) Establishment of the response to Fasciola hepatica infection in animal models using Transcriptome analysis and (viii) Analysis of the effect of the vaccine and metabolic pathways.

The project has achieved the first four goals, and is in the process of analysis and elaboration of the results.


2 articles published in Journals
5 papers at national conferences
3 papers at international conferences  

Antonio Muro Álvarez 
Professor of Parasitology at the University of Salamanca, Director of the Tropical Disease Research Centre at the University of Salamanca (CIETUS) and President of the Spanish Society of Tropical Medicine and International Health. The main lines of research are: (i) development of vaccines against diseases caused by helminths, mainly fasciolosis, schistosomiasis and strongyloidiasis, (ii) molecular diagnosis of imported human helminthiasis, (iii) study of pathogenic mechanisms related to production of nitric oxide and angiogenesis in various helminth infections. He carried out his postdoctoral studies at the University of Puerto Rico and Duke University (USA) on a Fulbright scholarship. He has more than one hundred articles in journals, in addition to patents. He has written three books, three monographs and about two hundred papers at national and international conferences. He has participated in thirty-six research projects. He is currently involved in a Leonardo project for the European Union. He has supervised ten doctoral theses. He has been an evaluator for centres of reference at national level, such as the National Centre for Microbiology and the National Centre for Tropical Medicine (ISCIII), and internationally, such as the School of Epidemiology at the University of Antioquía (Colombia). He has participated in numerous doctoral thesis tribunals in Spain and abroad. Lastly, he has organised and coordinated conferences and scientific meetings, seminars and national and international courses.

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