Douglas E Jones
Part of the laboratories' efforts is focused on understanding the host-pathogen relationship of Leishmania amazonensis infection. This intracellular protozoal pathogen is notorious for establishing a chronic infection with high parasite load in both humans and experimentally infected mice. Areas of interest include how the host immune response tolerates the high parasite load and how the immune response can be manipulated to resolve infection. Current studies are focused on determining how antibodies can contribute to limiting an infection with this intracellular parasite. We expect that this knowledge will be useful for designing immunotherapeutic strategies and that the knowledge will be more broadly applicable to other intracellular pathogens. We have also used our knowledge of L. amazonensis infection, in collaboration with mathematicians, to develop mathematical models of immunity. These models have illustrated how persistent antigen is central for shaping the immune response over time. In turn we have used this information to propose a novel method of vaccination that will maintain long-term effective immunity. Whereas the majority of vaccination strategies focus on antigen and adjuvant selection we propose to design a vaccine implant that releases the vaccine only when the immune response wanes. We propose that this vaccine machine, responsive to the immune status of the animal, will be able to maintain high levels of effective immunity for many years as well as overcome the confounding influence of maternal antibodies during vaccination of neonates.