Establishing a population immune baseline in African population: impact of lifelong cumulative exposures on shaping naive B cell repertoire

A recent development in vaccines, such as the HIV eOD-GT8 vaccine, indicate that the human immune germline could be targeted. Such vaccines work by priming the naive B cell repertoire to generate protective broadly neutralising antibodies. Success of these germline targeting vaccines will depend on composition of the naive B cell repertoires. Kimotho and his team will investigate the impact of life-long cumulative infectious exposures in shaping the naive B cells repertoire in African populations which will inform on the possibility of success of such germline targeting vaccines, and pathogen responses in general. This will be achieved through sequencing of the B cells receptors and RNA-sequencing and using tools such as IgDiscover to analyse antibody repertoires and discover new variable (V) genes from high-throughput sequencing reads not present in the immunogenetics database (the global reference tool of immunoglobulin genes). This work will inform predictive factors which could contribute to differences in immune responses to pathogens and vaccines and hence the considerations that should be made during vaccine design especially the germline targeting vaccines.

SANTHE is an Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) flagship programme funded by the Science for Africa Foundation through the DELTAS Africa programme; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gilead Sciences Inc.; and the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard.