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Dr. Godwin W Nchinda (Ph.D) is Senior Immunologist CIRCB and Deputy Director General Head of CIRCB Vaccinology Laboratory Head of CIRCB Biobanking Laboratory For the last twenty four years I have focused my attention to developing model vaccines that could be easily translated into clinics against infectious diseases and tumors. I studied Microbiology in the University of Calabar, Nigeria and then spent four years thereafter in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria working on an NIH Grant where we developed a feed based vaccine against Newcastle disease virus infections in free range Chickens. During my Ph.D thesis (1998-2001) I learned how to design and evaluate model SIV/HIV vaccines under the mentorship of Dr. K. Überla, Professor of Molecular Virology in the University of Leipzig Germany. I next did a two year postdoc in the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany where we continued characterizing HIV/SIV vaccines. During the next 7 years (2003-2010), I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Ralph Steinman (2011 Nobel prize for Medicine) of the Rockefeller University USA, where we developed new forms of HIV, TB, Malaria and Tumor vaccines by harnessing Dendritic cells. In 2008 I was certified as a clinical and translational research scientist by the Rockefeller University. In 2010 I relocated to CIRCB, Yaounde Cameroon where we are now optimizing dendritic cell targeted vaccines for clinical evaluation in Africa. The first in human evaluation of a Cameroon developed HIV-1 vaccine is envisaged in 2017. In addition we are also studying the phenotypic and functional properties of various immune’s cells in the context of co-morbidies with HIV-1 infection. We are looking particularly at the impact of malaria, HBV, HCV, HPV and TB in the long term management of HIV-1 especially in remote areas of Africa. We are also actively training young research scientists at the Msc and Ph.D level to perform cutting edge science. Our work has been funded by TWAS, EDCTP, Canada grand challenge, Italy, Germny, Korea and Norway. Never the less the the Cameroonian government has remain our greatest funder.
Background: The membrane proximal external region (MPER) of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein-41 (gp41) is targeted by several broadly neutralizing antibodies whose conserved linear epitopes are promising targets for vaccine design. However, a formidable challenge has remained the difficulty to design and deliver MPER based immunogens for the efficient induction of such broadly neutralizing HIV-1 specific antibodies (bnAb). This is mainly because the linear bnAb MPER epitopes are poorly accessible to the immune system. The overall objective of this study therefore was the development and validation of an RNA coliphage Q? display system for efficient presentation of conserved bnAb epitopes to the immune system Method: To overcome the challenge of effective presentation of MPER to the immune system we have selectively engineered the surface of the RNA coliphage Q? to to display a 51 aa consensus MPER peptide upon the surface of the phage particle. The expression cassettes were used for the production of Q?MPER recombinant hybrid phages after transformation of E. coli HB101 strain. Results:Specific recognition of all the linear MPER based bnAb epitopes were confirmed in ELISA with recombinant Q?MPER phage as antigen and the bnAb 2F5, Z13, 4E10 and 10E8 as antibodies. Next the prevalence of MPER specific antibodies was determined in plasma from antiretroviral naïve HIV infected participants of the CIRCB AFRODEC cohort. The greater majority (84%) of participants’ plasma showed MPER peptide specific reactivity with antibody titers ranging ranging from 200 to 409600 comparative to background values with Q? empty as antigen. Conclusion:Thus, this novel recombinant Q?MPER phages can be used to monitor MPER- specific immune responses in clinical samples. In addition the recombinant Q?MPER phage can be used as immunogens either alone or in combination with other strategies for the induction of MPER specific immunity against HIV-1.