Engineering of Mycoplasma pneumoniae as a broad-spectrum animal vaccine

Principal Investigator/s: 

Annually, infections caused by Mycoplasma species in poultry, cows, and pigs result in multimillion Euro losses in the USA and Europe. There is no effective vaccination against many Mycoplasmas that infect pets, humans and farm animals (e.g. Mycoplasma bovis cow infection). Furthermore, most Mycoplasmas are difficult to grow in axenic culture, requiring a complex media that includes animal serum. Consequently, even in those cases for which effective vaccines are available (namely, M. hyopneumoniae in pigs and M. gallisepticum and M. synoviae in poultry), the production process of the vaccines is challenging. Here, we will capitalize on our extensive systems biology knowledge of M. pneumoniae and on cutting-edge synthetic biology methodologies to design a universal Mycoplasma chassis that can be deployed as single- or multi-vaccine in a range of animal hosts. We envision an iterative workflow that is (whole-cell) model-driven and relies on a range of genome-editing and transplantation tools, circuit (re-)design and chassis plug-in as well as on assessment of vaccine performance pigs in an industrial setting. The chassis will be free of virulence determinants from M. pneumoniae and will be optimized for fast growth in a serum-free medium. Using this chassis, we will express heterologous antigens from one or more pathogens (i.e. Mycoplasma and virus) and biological adjuvants to create a targeted vector vaccine. Specifically in this project, we will target the development of attenuated and/or inactivated vaccine(s) against two Mycoplasma pathogens: M. hyopneumoniae (pigs) and M. bovis (cattle), and a combined one against M. hyopneumoniae and PRSSV virus (pigs). We will ensure that foreseeable risks are avoided, all ethical issues are handled in a transparent manner, and that our results and their implications are disseminated effectively and communicated efficiently with the European public.

01/04/2015 31/03/2020
Total budget: 
CRG budget: