14 Feb 2019
Vaccines in the 21st Century
14 Feb 2019
9.00 - 5.00pm
On Thursday, 14 February, the Doherty Institute will host an all-day symposium on Vaccines in the 21st Century. Keynote speaker Professor Gagandeep Kang, Executive Director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, India, will join a series of distinguished speakers from within the Institute and around Melbourne. Professor Kang will speak on The rotavirus vaccine story: developing and evaluating vaccines in India. The symposium will provide an overview on major vaccines that are recently licensed, in late stage development, or subject to ongoing research, for infectious diseases including rotavirus, influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.
Professor Kang received her training in medicine and microbiology at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India where she is Professor of Microbiology. Currently she is on sabbatical as the Executive Director of the Translational Health Science Technology Institute for the Government of India. She works on enteric infections in children, particularly on transmission and immune responses, in order to design effective interventions. Current studies include active hospital and community based surveillance and clinical trials of new and existing vaccines, with use of molecular based assays to study the diversity of pathogens and the immune response of children with viral and parasitic enteric infections.
The rotavirus vaccine story: developing and evaluating vaccines in India
India’s vaccine industry provides the majority of vaccines used in national immunization programs globally, and this is something to be proud of, but these vaccines were developed elsewhere and we compete with low prices and large volumes. In 2016, a vaccine made in India and tested and developed mainly in India, was introduced into the national program. This is the oral rotavirus vaccine, derived from an Indian strain, and tested over two decades before finally being licensed and used for India’s children. Subsequently, a second vaccine was also developed in India and both vaccines are now pre-qualified and being tested in Africa.
However, oral rotavirus, polio and cholera vaccines are less immunogenic and less effective in children living in resource-poor regions of Africa and Asia. The lower efficacy of multiple oral vaccines in similar settings suggests there may be common mechanisms that limit immunity induced by oral vaccines in such environments.
In studies on oral rotavirus vaccines (in India, we have investigated the role of maternal antibodies, the presence of bacterial and viral pathogens, the intestinal microbiota, intestinal inflammation and the systemic and mucosal immune response in children from lower socio-economic status families. The ability to apply new investigative approaches to carefully conducted clinical studies in resource-poor settings can provide new insights into the heterogeneous performance of oral vaccines.