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Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnológicas, Univ

Organisation background

Despite being a young institution with only 25 years of history, since its origins the National University of San Martín (UNSAM) has built bridges with prestigious public agencies of science and technology to contribute in the development of R&D and an excellent innovation campus.

Nowadays, more than 500 researchers and 340 scholarship holders carry out their scientific and technological activities in the Miguelete Campus and in the other venues the University has in Buenos Aires City, San Martín, Ezeiza and Chascomús.

The University has more than 50,000 square metres of offices and laboratories with first class equipment where students, professors, entrepreneurs, scientists, technical personnel and service staff coexist in a stimulating atmosphere for the development of creative capabilities and the diverse expressions of talent.

UNSAM is also part of a technology park in Buenos Aires Province (Polo Tecnológico Constituyentes) and has forged alliances with the most important research institutions in the country: the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA), the National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE), the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI) and the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA). 


Why we entered the Competition

Our research group has been dedicated for more than 20 years to basic and applied research in the area of infectious diseases, particularly in zoonosis such as brucellosis, an area in which we generate important knowledge about mechanisms of molecular pathogenesis, immunology, development of new diagnostic tests and vaccines. Previously, work developing and testing Delta-pgm vaccine strains in Brucella abortus and Brucella suis has generated excellent results. Our group has also demonstrated the protective activities of several OMPs in different formulations and animal models and we believe that this know-how, in combination with a proved live-attenuated strain as Delta-pgm, could result in an excellent vaccine for B. melitensis.

The project team

Our multidisciplinary team at UNSAM is composed of three Senior scientists: Prof. Juliana Cassataro, Prof. Juan E. Ugalde and Prof. Diego J. Comerci who are specialized in molecular pathogenesis and immunology of brucellosis plus six junior scientists with expertise in brucellosis and other infectious diseases, four Postdocs, four Lab technicians specialized in microbiological and immunological techniques and four Veterinarians.


Our technical approach

To date, the most efficient vaccines for the control of brucellosis are live-attenuated strains harboring negligible virulence but with the ability to induce a highly protective immune response. Additionally, live vaccines are very stable after lyophilization even at relatively high temperatures. For all these reasons we developed BM Delta-pgm by deleting the gene coding for the phosphoglucomutase (pgm) enzyme that converts glucose-6-phosphate to glucose-1-phosphate and is central for the carbohydrate metabolism of the bacterium as we already demonstrated in Brucella abortus and Brucella suis. The BM Delta-pgm was constructed by clean deletion of the complete gene without the introduction of foreign DNA which results in a strain genetically tractable and is not a transgenic organism. This vaccine lacks a complete lipopolysaccharide (LPS), for this reason does not induce antibodies interfering with standard diagnostic tests for brucellosis as was demonstrated in mice, bovines, pigs and sheep.  Of note, BM-Delta-pgm induces higher level of protection than Rev-1 strain against B. melitensis infection. Control of brucellosis requires of an efficient vaccine in combination with good diagnostic tests to monitor the status of the infection in the animal herds. BM Delta-pgm can be used in combination with a novel diagnostic DIVA test we developed for the diagnosis of several Brucella species in different hosts. This technological platform is ideal for implementing in eradication campaigns.

Additional information

We are interested in finding a business partner with proven ability to carry out the registration of the vaccine, its production and global marketing.