Rachel Tanner 2019

Rachel Tanner

Dr Rachel Tanner

University of Oxford, UK

Characterising the BCG-induced antibody response to inform the design of improved vaccines against M.tuberculosis, M.leprae and M.bovis (VALIDATE Fellowship)


Poster Abstract

Tuberculosis (TB), leprosy and bovine TB (bTB) are significant global health problems. The only vaccine that is currently available, BCG, offers variable protection against pulmonary (lung) TB disease and leprosy in humans and against bTB in cattle. A new vaccine is urgently needed, and insights into how BCG works may inform the design of a more protective vaccine. Most of the work to date on this has involved investigation of the cellular (T cell) arm of the immune response. However, it is now clear that antibodies might also have a role to play in BCG-induced protection. Very little is known about the antibody response to BCG vaccination.

This VALIDATE Fellowship project aims to characterise the antibody response to BCG by identifying the bacterial proteins recognised by these antibodies in serum samples from humans, cattle and non-human primates (NHPs) that have been vaccinated with BCG. The responses will be related to how protected the same cattle and NHPs were from bTB and TB respectively in previous infection experiments. New vaccines will then be produced using the proteins identified with the aim of generating much higher levels of antibodies. I will then test these vaccines to see if they protect mice against TB.

In the future, these proteins may be combined with those that generate a strong cellular response in the hope of offering a more effective vaccine against TB, leprosy and bTB.



I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Jenner Institute, with research interests in immune correlates of protection and the host immune response to TB vaccination. I have largely worked on the development of functional mycobacterial growth inhibition assays (MGIAs) across species but am currently focussing on the role of antibodies in vaccine-induced protection against M.tb, M.leprae and M.bovis.