The

Pantophlet Lab

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Simon Fraser University

 

 

 

 

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Research

 

 

 

 

Background

 

Vaccines have been extremely successful in providing protection against important viral infections such as polio and measles and are of tremendous significance to the safeguard of public health. However, conventional strategies have proven largely inadequate for developing protective vaccines against viruses such as human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). These viruses exhibit extreme antigenic diversity due to constant viral evolution in response to immune selection pressure during infection. New strategies are therefore needed to develop vaccines that will be able to cope with such diversity.

 

Research Objectives

 

Our research mainly concerns HIV-1 and the overall objective of our work is to develop novel strategies and approaches for the design of an HIV vaccine component that elicits virus-neutralizing antibodies (nAbs). Towards this end we study how HIV protects itself from antibody recognition and are also interested in how antibody responses are shaped upon experimental immunization compared to infection. This collective insight informs the engineering of immunogens to elicit nAb responses specifically targeted to conserved epitopes on the virus. Because they bind conserved epitopes, such nAbs are expected to exhibit broad anti-viral activity.

 

Our research objectives are encompassed by five complementary aims:

 

*    To define nAb target sites at the molecular level

*    To engineer immunogens to elicit nAbs with broad anti-viral activity

*    To explore novel immunogen display and formulation platforms

*    To develop models to explore correlates of protective humoral immunity

*    To design antibody-based anti-viral therapeutics

 

In addition to HIV-1, we have a strong interest in influenza virus. We apply several techniques in the lab that are rooted in biochemistry, molecular biology, and virology. Our research is performed at BioSafety Level 2 (BSL2) and BSL2+. To produce engineered immunogens we typically utilize a variety of systems (bacteria, mammalian, and insect) for protein expression. Furthermore, our work is supported by core infrastructure at SFU, including an Animal Resources Center, a Flow Cytometry facility and a BioSafety Level 3 (BSL3) facility.

 

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Funding

 

Support for our research is provided by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the NIH, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). Lab infrastructure development is supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) of the Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development.

 

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8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada

Ralph Pantophlet 2016