TRMD 609 Seminar: “A Recombinant Protein Subunit Filovirus Vaccine Induces Passive Protection Through Transfer of Maternal Antibody”, Caitlin Williams, Tropical Medicine PhD Candidate

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Date(s) - 03/03/2021
12:00 AM - 1:00 PM


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Call in: (669) 900-6833

Zoom ID: 948 0519 9979

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Caitlin Williams, Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology
John A. Burns School of Medicine
University of Hawaii at Manoa


Filoviridae is a family of negative sense single stranded RNA viruses capable of causing severe hemorrhagic fevers in humans and non-human primates. These viruses are recovered in several bodily fluids. Breastmilk may be a mechanism of mother to child transmission as Zaire ebolavirus has been detected by both culture and RT-PCR after seroreversion in the blood. Nursing infants with infected mothers contracted Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in 80% of the cases studied. Ebola RNA was detectable in amniotic fluids well after serum clearance in the mother, indicating transplacental viral transmission as well. Lack of maternal protection during natural infection highlights the need for vaccine induced immunity to protect women and nursing infants in Ebola endemic regions. Development of a vaccine to induce passive immunization is key to protecting neonates from EVD. Maternal IgG is transferred to neonates at high concentrations in utero as well as through nursing. Our group has developed a recombinant protein subunit vaccine with protective efficacy in mice. We demonstrated that a filovirus protein subunit vaccine induces potent humoral responses in adult female mice that are efficiently transferred to suckling pups. Antigen specific maternal IgG reaches high titers in the pups and remains in the periphery for several weeks post-weaning, indicating the potential for this platform to provide a comprehensive vaccine option for pregnant and nursing women in Ebola endemic areas.