Crowe Lab Finds that Human Antibodies to H5N1 Strain Can Kill Laboratory-Created Strain of Avian Flu
While the H5N1 avian influenza virus does not seem to transmit from person to person, scientists in the Netherlands and at the University of Wisconsin have found that the deadly virus can acquire aerosol transmissibility when passed intentionally in the laboratory from ferret to ferret. This finding created many fears in the scientific community of bioterrorist activity through the use of this information about the H5N1 avian influenza virus. Vanderbilt research, however, shows that human antibodies to the natural strain of H5N1 are able to kill the potentially more harmful laboratory-created strain of the H5N1 avian flu virus. Read more in the Reporter.
Dr. Crowe discovers new potential approach to influenza virus
In a recent study in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology
, Dr. Crowe, along with co-author Ian Wilson, D. Phil, D.Sc (Scripps Research Institute), found in a structural snapshot a connection between human antibodies and a well-known structural depression viral influenza uses to hook host cells. If medications can be developed to mimic the actions of antibodies, specifically targeting a vulnerable spot, we would have a new tool to use against influenza because the influenza virus would be prevented from attaching to host cells.
Read more in the Reporter.
Crowe Lab Explores New Therapies for Ebola and Marburg Viruses
James Crowe Jr., MD and Alexander Bukreyev, PhD from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have received a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to explore and develop prevention and treatment options for Ebola and Marburg viruses. These viruses are known for their high death rates, which are around 80 percent, and for the intense course of their illnesses, which includes bleeding and multi-organ failure. The viruses can be spread to humans from an animal vector and are spread from person to person through blood contact. Crowe and his team will isolate antibodies from blood cells of survivors of Marburg or Ebola virus hemorrhagic fevers. Crowe and Bukreyev have received more than 1,000 blood cell samples from 30 Ugandan survivors of Ebola and from a Colorado woman who contracted Marburg viral illness while visiting Uganda in 2008. The lab is still awaiting samples from the Congo and from Gabon so that all known Ebola and Marburg viral strains are covered. The goal of this project is to test the effectiveness of human antibodies as both preventive and treatment measures in animal models. Read more in the Reporter.
Santa Crowe and the Admin Elves Deliver Treats
To celebrate the holiday season, Dr. Crowe and VVC administration delivered candy bags to VVC friends in the VUMC!
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Medical Students travel to Argentina for Research and Culture
In Summer 2012, Vanderbilt University medical students Gregory LaChaud and Benjamin McCormick traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to conduct research at Fundación INFANT and experience life and culture in Argentina. While Greg was uncovering whether Mycoplasma pneumoniae, an upper respiratory bacterium, would actually lead to a more persistent asthma, Ben was investigating the association between interferon levels and severity of viral upper respiratory infections. Ben and Greg enjoyed the quaint lab at Fundación INFANT and said it provided a communal setting, allowing them to get to know the INFANT researchers and their current projects. Ben and Greg also enjoyed the life and culture in Argentina, visiting outdoor street markets, drum shows, soccer games, Spanish lessons, and El Calafate and El Chalten, areas in the Patagonia. "This was a great trip to not only help me to grow academically, but also to help me grow to become a more culturally competent physician in whatever field I ultimately decide to go into," reported Greg. Ben also says that he "would encourage anyone, even those who don't speak Spanish, to go and see for themselves."
Dr. Crowe is interviewed on Gold Particle Vaccine
On June 28th, Dr. Crowe was interviewed by the Voice of Russia about a gold particle vaccine to prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In this new method, tiny gold particles mimic a virus and carry specific proteins to immune cells. In addition to using a technology of coating or embedding a particle, the Crowe Lab is simulating the shape of the virus by using techniques to allow the gold to mirror the rod-like structure of RSV. This gold particle vaccine for RSV could bring about a "possible gold rush" in medicine, where gold particles would serve as a platform technology for research and vaccine development for other viruses, and possibly even for treatment of bacterial infections or cancer. Future research may also analyze the structure of gold to discover other materials that could be used in this method in place of gold. Click here to hear Dr. Crowe's interview.
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Frances Smith-House Wins Award for Excellence in Basic Research
On January 11, 2013, Crowe Lab Manager Frances Smith-House was named the recipient of the Edward E. Price Jr. Award for Excellence in Basic Research, one of three 2012 Research Staff Awards at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Fran has served as an innovative and fearless leader in the Crowe Lab. According to Dr. Crowe's comments in the VUMC Reporter, Fran's expertise has been a huge contribution to the isolation of immune cells from survivors of the 1918 influenza pandemic, generating "some of the most unique human monoclonal antibodies ever described." The VVC is excited to celebrate Fran's award and is grateful for her contributions to the VVC. Read more in the Reporter.
VVC Trainee Mohammed Aiyegbo Defends Dissertation and Receives PhD
On February 12, 2013, VVC Trainee Mohommed Aiyegbo presented his dissertation defense and received his PhD. Mohammad's dissertation in microbiology and immunology is entitled, "Structural Analysis of Rotavirus Antigen-Antibody Interactions." The VVC is excited for Mohammed's success and looks forward to his next steps in his career.
Dr. Polack's Election to Membership in the American Pediatric Society
The Vaccine Center is pleased to announce that Fernando Polack was elected to membership in the American Pediatric Society (APS). The APS Members' Dinner will honor Dr. Polack in Washington, DC on Sunday, May 5, 2013. The American Pediatric Society is a major pediatric academic honor society for senior researchers, and Dr. Polack's election is a significant success for both Dr. Polack and the VVC.
VVC Admin Travel to Argentina
During the summer of 2012, VVC Administrative Officer Gay Nell Krauss and VVC International Liaison Sarah Ladd visited Buenos Aires, Argentina to travel to four hospitals that are enrolled in the VVC's international research projects. "It was remarkable to see firsthand how the research that Vanderbilt and Infant Foundation are performing is affecting lives of children all around the world," Sarah said, "It was a heartwarming experience that inspired me in my current and future work at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center."
Vanderbilt International Symposium on Respiratory Virus Pathogenesis and Immunity
The Vanderbilt Vaccine Center will host the Vanderbilt International Symposium on Respiratory Virus Pathogenesis and Immunity on May 24, 2013. More details on speakers and location to come.
Dr. Crowe leads VANTAGE to Increase Innovation in Genomic Research
Because of Vanderbilt's continued efforts to increase research and innovation in cracking the mysteries of the genome, VANTAGE (VANderbilt Technologies for Advanced Genomics) has been created through the merger of the DNA Resources Core and Genome Sciences Resource to serve as a collaborative interdisciplinary resource. VANTAGE will work with VANGARD (VANderbilt Technologies for Advanced Genomics Analysis and Research Design) to conduct innovative research and investigations of the genome. VANGARD will host "Genomic Design Studios" each Tuesday beginning Nov. 13 in the VANTAGE resource. VANTAGE, led by James Crowe, M.D., offers services in genotyping and expression analysis, DNA extraction and banking, Sanger sequencing and next generation sequencing.
Dr. Crowe to present cutting-edge research at Discovery Lecture
Dr. Crowe will present his lecture, "Next Generation Vaccines" on Thursday, May 22, at 4 pm in 208 Light Hall as a part of Vanderbilt's Discovery Lecture series.
This series seeks to respond to the requests of the Biomedical Advisory Board in presenting discussion-stimulating topics in research.
Dr. Borden Lacy and Dr. Simon Mallal will also present findings that showcase Vanderbilt University's position on the cutting-edge of medical research; their lectures are respectively entitled "Structure and Function of Clostridium difficile Toxins A and B" and "Personalized Immunology."
Learn more about the Discovery Lecture series.
Dr. Crowe delivers the State of the VVC Address
On Thursday, January 31st, members of the Vaccine Center gathered to celebrate a year of success in 2012 as Dr. Crowe delivered a presentation on the specific successes of the VVC. Dr. Crowe's presentation included highlights from the year such as the current work of the VVC labs and cores; arrivals and departures of VVC faculty, staff, and trainees; academic honors and successes; articles published by members of the VVC; MTAs, patents, and licenses; research grants, funding, and support; and VVC events. For all involved in the work of the VVC, the State of the VVC Address was a time of both celebration of past successes and a challenge to continue to conduct innovative research and training.
VVC and Infant Offer New International Program for Residents at Children's Hospital
On November 20, 2012, VVC International Liaison Sarah Ladd and Romi Libster of Fundación INFANT spoke to residents at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt about an international research opportunity in Argentina. This new program will allow Vanderbilt residents to travel to Buenos Aires to complete a rotation and be immersed in translational research for pediatricians. INFANT's training programs embed trainees in a bilingual team of local and U.S.-trained researchers and physicians and will include the experience of shadowing certified physicians in pediatric hospitals or community centers, ensuring a thorough insight on a unique health care system. This opportunity will also immerse students in the culture of Buenos Aires and surrounding areas in Argentina, with opportunities such as Spanish lessons, Tango lessons, and visits to "estancias."
"Whole Human Genome Sequencing: The State of the Art" with Rick Tearle, Ph.D.
On Thursday, November 15th, the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center hosted a special seminar with Rick Tearle, Ph.D. on "Whole Human Genome Sequencing: The State of the Art." Rick Tearle serves as Senior Field Applications Scientist for Complete Genomics, Inc. The seminar began at 10:30am in 512 Light Hall. Please contact Deborah Holguin (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.
Senator Alexander Meets with Crowe Lab to Learn About the Fight Against Ebola
On Wednesday, Senator Lamar Alexander visited Vanderbilt University Medical Center to meet with Dr. Crowe and his team in order to learn about the existing defenses against Ebola. Dr. Crowe and his lab conduct research which aims to develop a drug to protect individuals against the Ebola virus that has recently spread through West Africa. Senator Alexander declared last Tuesday that the growing threat of the Ebola virus must be taken "as seriously as we take the threat of ISIS" and, in a more recent committee hearing, called Ebola "one of the most explosive, dangerous, deadly epidemics in modern times." In March of this year, a collaborative research group comprised of Dr. James Crowe, Dr. Thomas Geisbert and Dr. Alexander Bukreyev of UTMB, Dr. John Eldrige of Profectus Biosciences in Baltimore, and Dr. Ian MacLachlan of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals in Canada was awarded a grant to develop methods of treatment and prevention of Ebola and Marburg virus infections. The federally-funded project will provide $26 million over the next five years to develop and test broad-spectrum treatments and vaccines for Ebola and Marburg viruses. Dr. Crowe explains, "The research tools we are using, human monoclonal antibodies derived from the blood cells of naturally infected human survivors, also can be developed as prevention and treatment biologic medicines (for use) in the field.” While the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center has been studying Ebola and developing prevention and treatment methods for several years, the new funding for Ebola research development comes not a minute too soon. Earlier today in Washington, President Obama spoke to a summit of world leaders, stated that Ebola is a "growing threat to regional and global security” and called for immediate, universal effort to stop the spread of the virus and fund research for development of a treatment. Photo: Anne Rayner, VU
Dr. Crowe Receives "Mentor of the Year" Award
Dr. Crowe was honored with the "Mentor of the Year" award for 2011 at the Sixth Annual VUMC Postdoctoral Research and Shared Resources Symposium held on May 2nd, 2012.