Our lab focuses on the exploitation of phage display to design and develop a therapeutic phage-based HIV vaccine. A hybrid phage that combines the display of professional antigen presenting cell-targeting ligands onto λ capsid protein gpD along with a phage genome-encoded HIV eukaryotic cassette will be developed. The eukaryotic cassette will carry the gene of interest (GOI) to the intended cellular recipient for the production of the virus like particle (VLP) vaccine candidate. The transduction efficiency of the phage vectors and subsequent transgene expression will be evaluated for their intracellular production of a therapeutic VLP vaccine.

 A specialized λ phage particle will be used to display various peptides, more specifically targeting professional antigen presenting dendritic cells (DC) to deliver the DNA cargo. Our tuneable system involves the use of two genetic suppression systems used in tandem to modulate cellular production of fused and unfused capsid alleles in order to maximize capsid viability and production, and functionality of the fused peptide. To develop a novel HIV vaccine construct, a specialized HIV genetic construct will be subcloned into a eukaryotic expression vector to ensure expression in the mammalian host. 

 

As highly immunogenic entities, phage have the potential value as self-adjuvant vaccines against a variety of preventable diseases. This work will serve as proof-of-principle to demonstrate the ability of the phage delivery systems to serve as gene delivery vaccines.  Significant enhancements to transfection with these phage vectors, along with the diverse applications of gene therapy, offer limitless potential for new therapeutics catering to many diseases including cancer.

Find out more about the researcher: Jessica