(ICF)- IMMPROVE: Immune Memory and Mechanisms of Protection from Vaccines

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Paediatrics


The COVID-19 pandemic saw the rapid development and deployment of a range of vaccine platforms. While essential to protect against severe disease, these vaccine platforms need further optimisation to provide long-term and local protection against infection including future variants. This vaccine optimisation requires an improved understanding of how a protective immune response is induced, how it is maintained, and the role of immunity in the nose and the lungs.

Building on the experience our consortium amassed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will answer some of the key outstanding questions in the field:

1.MEMORY We will delineate the mechanisms which influence the duration of protective immune responses. Improving understanding of immune memory is critical for the development and deployment of future vaccines with long-lasting protection against both pandemic and endemic pathogens.
2. LOCATION We will determine the role of the immune response in the airways, as the entry route for virus, in protection against infection. The aim is to understand if nasally administered vaccines can stop infection and onward transmission, as well as protect against severe disease.
3. PROTECTION We will define which aspects of the immune response protect against disease and how to maximise these responses. This will enable vaccine developers to focus on new vaccines that deliver improved protection.
4. DATA There exist large datasets from clinical trials and real-world studies that, if combined with the data from this programme, would generate a unique resource for understanding how vaccines work. To achieve this, we will develop an integrated data structure and open-source computational tools to integrate disparate data and maximise data usefulness.
5.IMPACT We will bolster pandemic preparedness by the training and empowerment of future leaders in vaccine development and engaging public understanding of the need for vaccines.
Targeting these questions will lead to increased capability for rational, immunologically-driven vaccine development and uptake.

Technical Summary

The contribution of the expert scientists in this consortium, their accumulated knowledge, unique facilities and proven methodologies places this consortium at the epicentre of enabling rapid control not only of SARS-CoV-2 but other potential pandemics. Through mechanistic immunology, we will deliver a new tool-kit for pandemic responsiveness, we will be ideally positioned for future vaccine design.

Harnessing the current and future expertise of this consortium, its PIs, future-leaders, data-sets, public and patient involvement and engagement experts, we will consolidate learnings from COVID-19 and enable outbreak and pandemic readiness to meet the challenges of changing infection patterns in the 21st century.

The core objectives of the consortium are:
1. To understand the immune mechanisms required for long-lived and broad protection against SARS-CoV-2, and how to effectively induce these responses through vaccination.
2. To understand the duality of systemic and local immunity against SARS-CoV-2, their corresponding roles in protection against disease and infection/transmission, and how to replicate these advantages through vaccination.
3. To define mechanistic correlates of protection, empowering next-generation pan-coronavirus vaccine development.
4. To build resilient long-term capacity in pandemic preparedness via bolstering the global network of scientists; training, developing and empowering early-career researchers in vaccinology and vaccine design; and augmenting the biosciences capability for vaccine development and rapid response to emergent pathogens.
5. Build upon the strong links of the consortium with the public, extend the network of public engagement and involvement to early-career researchers, and act as a bidirectional bridge between the public and vaccine developers / policy makers to aid support and uptake of vaccination.


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