Providence, RI, United States
Providence, RI, United States

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Poole D.N.,Brown University | Tracy J.K.,University of Maryland Baltimore County | Levitz L.,GAIA Vaccine Foundation | Rochas M.,GAIA Vaccine Foundation | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Despite a high prevalence of oncogenic human papilloma virus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer mortality, HPV vaccination is not currently available in Mali. Knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer in Mali, and thereby vaccine readiness, may be limited. Research staff visited homes in a radial pattern from a central location to recruit adolescent females and males aged 12-17 years and men and women aged ≥18 years (N = 51) in a peri-urban village of Bamako, Mali. Participants took part in structured interviews assessing knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to HPV, cervical cancer, and HPV vaccination. We found low levels of HPV and cervical cancer knowledge. While only 2.0% of respondents knew that HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), 100% said they would be willing to receive HPV vaccination and would like the HPV vaccine to be available in Mali. Moreover, 74.5% said they would vaccinate their child(ren) against HPV. Men were found to have significantly greater autonomy in the decision to vaccinate themselves than women and adolescents (p = 0.005), a potential barrier to be addressed by immunization campaigns. HPV vaccination would be highly acceptable if the vaccine became widely available in Bamako, Mali. This study demonstrates the need for a significant investment in health education if truly informed consent is to be obtained for HPV vaccination. Potential HPV vaccination campaigns should provide more information about HPV and the vaccine. Barriers to vaccination, including the significantly lower ability of the majority of the target population to autonomously decide to get vaccinated, must also be addressed in future HPV vaccine campaigns. © 2013 Poole et al.

Levitz L.,Epivax Inc. | Koita O.A.,University of Bamako | Sangare K.,University of Bamako | Ardito M.T.,Epivax Inc. | And 13 more authors.
Vaccine | Year: 2012

HIV genomic sequence variability has complicated efforts to generate an effective globally relevant vaccine. Regions of the viral genome conserved in sequence and across time may represent the "Achilles' heel" of HIV. In this study, highly conserved T-cell epitopes were selected using immunoinformatics tools combining HLA-A2 supertype binding predictions with relative global conservation. Analysis performed in 2002 on 10,803 HIV-1 sequences, and again in 2009, on 43,822 sequences, yielded 38 HLA-A2 epitopes. These epitopes were experimentally validated for HLA binding and immunogenicity with PBMCs from HIV-infected patients in Providence, Rhode Island, and/or Bamako, Mali. Thirty-five (92%) stimulated an IFNγ response in PBMCs from at least one subject. Eleven of fourteen peptides (79%) were confirmed as HLA-A2 epitopes in both locations. Validation of these HLA-A2 epitopes conserved across time, clades, and geography supports the hypothesis that such epitopes could provide effective coverage of virus diversity and would be appropriate for inclusion in a globally relevant HIV vaccine. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

De Groot A.S.,Epivax Inc. | De Groot A.S.,University of Rhode Island | De Groot A.S.,GAIA Vaccine Foundation | Levitz L.,Epivax Inc. | And 6 more authors.
Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics | Year: 2012

Two major obstacles confronting HIV vaccine design have been the extensive viral diversity of HIV-1 globally and viral evolution driven by escape from CD8 + cytotoxic T-cell lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated immune pressure. Regions of the viral genome that are not able to escape immune response and that are conserved in sequence and across time may represent the "Achilles' heel" of HIV and would be excellent candidates for vaccine development. In this study, T-cell epitopes were selected using immunoinformatics tools, combining HLA-A3 binding predictions with relative sequence conservation in the context of global HIV evolution. Twenty-seven HLA-A3 epitopes were chosen from an analysis performed in 2003 on 10,803 HIV-1 sequences, and additional sequences were selected in 2009 based on an expanded set of 43,822 sequences. These epitopes were tested in vitro for HLA binding and for immunogenicity with PBMCs of HIV-infected donors from Providence, Rhode Island. Validation of these HLA-A3 epitopes conserved across time, clades and geography supports the hypothesis that epitopes such as these would be candidates for inclusion in our globally relevant GAIA HIV vaccine constructs. © 2012 Landes Bioscience.

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