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Cryptococcus vaccines

Cryptococcus vaccines

Invasive infections caused by the encapsulated fungus Cryptococcus neoformans and its sister species, C. gattii, occur mainly in immunocompromised persons. For example, an estimated 180,000 HIV-infected persons die from cryptococcal meningitis annually, accounting for 15% of AIDS-related deaths. Despite the potential of reducing the global burden of disease with vaccination, there are no fungal vaccines approved for clinical use. A major goal of our research program is the development of vaccines to protect at risk persons from cryptococcosis.

We have two major Cryptococcus vaccine projects. For the first project, we are identifying protein and peptide antigens that, when packaged with adjuvants that stimulate CD4 T cell and antibody responses, act as protective vaccines. The second project is a collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Lodge of Duke University to study vaccines consisting of whole Cryptococcus organisms attenuated by deletion of chitin deacetylase genes.