Public Health England (PHE)

PHE is an executive agency of the UK Department of Health. The Microbiology Services Division at Porton Down, part of the National Infection Service directorate, has extensive high-containment laboratory facilities and rare capabilities to handle infectious organisms under the highest levels of containment, and the ability to work with in vivo models to evaluate new therapeutic interventions against these organisms. The research department has a significant number of translational research programmes involving the development of infectious disease vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Many of these programmes are collaborations with the biotech/pharma sectors. The department has expertise in aerosol delivery of pathogens and therapeutics and in advanced imaging under high-containment conditions.

Role in the TRANSVAC project

PHE is contributing to the “Animal models” platform with particular expertise in influenza and TB models. For influenza we offer the ferret model, the “gold standard” for infections with human influenza viruses, which will be used to assess the efficacy of vaccine candidates. PHE will provide scientific advice on vaccination approach and design, animal purchase and housing, biological sampling, all in vitro/in vivo work. In animal models joint research activity, PHE will contribute to studies in non-human primates where stored samples from BCG-vaccinated subjects (with a regimen comparable to human immunisation) will be used to generate data which will be comparable to humans. Antigen specific lymphocyte responses and cytokine secretion profiles will be assessed by advanced flow cytometry.

Main staff involved in TRANSVAC

Cathy Rowe, general project manager; Miles Carroll, Deputy Director Head of Research; Bassam Hallis, project manager, influenza research; Anthony Marriott, project team leader, influenza research; Sally Sharpe, Scientific Leader for non-human primates and imaging; Ann Rawkins, Scientific Leader for animal models and aerobiology;

The Facility

The PHE laboratories at Porton have high-containment laboratories and facilities for in vivo studies with BSL3 pathogens and expertise in the aerosol delivery of pathogens and therapeutics and advanced imaging under high containment. The facility comprises non-pathogenic and pathogen containment sections with 40 multi-species rooms that can be operated up to BSL3. The delivery of nose-only aerosols to mice, guinea pigs, ferrets and macaques and their subsequent housing in social groups is a unique capability. PHE owns on-site breeding colonies of rhesus and cynomolgus macaques. The department has expertise and infrastructure to support bacterial and viral analysis, and the detailed evaluation of cellular and serological immune responses including flow cytometry and cell sorting, Luminex multiplex platforms, real time PCR, microarrays, comprehensive histological staining, immunohistochemistry and in-situ hybridisation. Services currently offered: We offer contract research based on the well-characterised animal models and infrastructure described above, which has been used in several EU projects. We carry out translational research programmes to develop infectious disease vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics using animal models of tuberculosis, influenza, HIV/AIDS, Clostridium difficile, meningococcal disease, chlamydia, burkholderia and anthrax, as well as emerging viral diseases such as Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever.

TNA or Training provided

PHE will provide access to the ferret model of influenza as part of TNA8 Animal models platform. Specifically, 1 unit of access comprising a vaccination/challenge study with 3 groups of 6 ferrets (control and 2 vaccine groups), to include vaccination/boost, intra-nasal challenge with influenza virus, monitoring of virus load (nasal washes), disease progression and immune responses (antibody, IFN gamma ELISA and ELISpot).

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