Immune Response to Viral Respiratory Infections and Vaccination in the Elderly
During the last years some new respiratory viruses (HMPV/hCoVNL63/SARS/ Bocavirus/flu H5N1) have emerged. In addition to other viruses, such as RSV, EBV and Paramyxoviruses, they are able to induce severe respiratory diseases in high-risk patients, in particular young children and the elderly.
We will study the innate and acquired immune response of the elderly against the new and known respiratory viruses. Clinical and basic research aspects will be addressed equally, and new diagnostic assays to evaluate the immune status of the elderly will be developed. Within the project an animal model for investigation of elderly people's immune response will be established. In this model antiviral agents will be tested for their ability to support the patient's immune response. Up to 40 000 elderly sera collected during the last nine years will be tested for antibodies to emerging respiratory viruses (HCoV-NL63/HMPV/RSV/EBV/fluH5N1), providing a wide view of the epidemiology of these viruses. For a precise view of elderly people's immune response to the viruses, a defined and uniform panel of relevant clinical data related to respiratory infections will be collected. Internationally standardised prospective data mining and a new multi-lingual software tool will be developed within the project and used by the partners.[+] Read More
We expect to gain detailed knowledge on the innate and acquired immune response to emerging respiratory viruses in the elderly. A thorough basic investigation of emerging respiratory viruses will provide further handles to develop antiviral strategies based on siRNA and external guide sequences (EGSs). Furthermore, known antivirals will be evaluated with the final goal of supporting the elderly's immune response whilst reducing mortality in the elderly caused by respiratory infections.
New diagnostic assays; new antiviral therapies; optimised treatment and vaccination strategies; new software tool for surveillance and clinical data mining.
Small and medium enterprise (SME) contribution: Three European SMEs are partners in RespViruses, and are based in Belgium, Germany and Spain. These SMEs will receive approximately 50% of the project budget. Having INGENASA, skilled in enzyme immunoassays, monoclonal antibodies production, nucleic acid cloning and recombinant protein expression as a partner, will help to develop new prototypes for diagnostic assay development in respiratory diseases. INGENASA is an SME biotechnology company dedicated to the research, development, production and commercialisation of products for the diagnostic sector and it has a 25-year history in this field, mainly for viruses that affect livestock animals or pets. INGENASA is also active in areas of prevention of animal diseases (vaccines) and has participated in several funded European projects (BRIDGE, BIOTECH, FAIR, FP5 and FP6 programmes).
The Belgian SME RNA-TEC, with its profound knowledge and expertise in oligonucleotide chemistry plays a crucial role in the project by designing and synthesising suitably stabilised siRNAs and external guide sequences that target highly conserved RNA sequences of the respiratory viruses that are the subject of the study. The partners will test these compounds in vitro and also in suitable animal models. A long-term goal of the project is to identify potent lead compounds that can be further exploited as potential antiviral therapeutics using appropriate delivery systems that we can access.
As software developer and consulter in IT departments, SME Mattes Hamann will cover two areas of the project - the internal communication and presentation of the project information and collection and evaluation of medical data. Therefore, multilingual software for acquiring relevant medical data around respiratory disease will be developed. Mattes Hamann already has experience in surveillance tools. They will create and develop the project website, a contact management system and a software tool for acquiring project information, and will also consult any team member if necessary.