NIAID Inventor Discusses Algorithm to Improve Vaccines
NIH has 1,200 scientists in the Intramural Research Program who research and develop new drugs, vaccines, methods, and other products to better public health. These scientists become inventors when their research results in a licensable material or product. The NIH Record sat down with Dr. Niraj Tolia, a senior investigator at the National institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) as part of their ‘Meet Our Makers’ series.
Tolia has been studying how to improve the body’s immune response to vaccines for 20 years. After joining the NIH, he wrote a computer algorithm using Rosetta, a protein manipulation and design program, to code all known structural data of a virus or parasite to create new protein sequences. This algorithm has been used with many antigens to very quickly improve them.
Tolia’s research mainly focuses on malaria. Through the algorithm, he created new protein sequences which were developed in an NIH lab built specifically for his research. They work by circumventing the virus or parasite’s ability to evade immune response because they are not natural. This technology is available for collaboration from NIAID, more information can be found in the abstract: Novel VAR2CSA Immunogens and Methods of Use Thereof.
When the world’s attention turned to Covid-19, it was only natural that Tolia would try his algorithm on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Tolia was able to improve the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein. An engineered RBD was expressed at greater yield, had increased temperature stability, and improved the immune response upon immunization of animals. This technology is available for collaboration from NIAID, more information can be found in the abstract: Novel Compositions of Matter Comprising Stabilized Coronavirus Antigens and Their Use
You can read the full profile titled Tolia Creates Algorithm to Improve Vaccines from the NIH Record. If you are interested in licensing or collaborating on other technologies from NIAID, please view these available NIAID opportunities.