85 Commercial Rd, Melbourne 3004
Associate Professor Heidi Drummer
Viral Entry and Vaccines Laboratory
Qualifications: BSc(Hons), PhD.
Our laboratory focusses on understanding how enveloped viruses attach to and enter cells to initiate viral replication and immunological responses that prevent infection with a vision to develop the world’s first preventative HCV vaccine for HCV elimination. Hepatitis C Virus contains two envelope glycoproteins, E1 and E2, that function as a heterodimer to mediate attachment and virus-cell membrane fusion. The viral glycoprotein E2 is primarily responsible for receptor binding to scavenger receptor class B type 1 (SRB1) and CD81. Antibodies directed towards regions of E2 that interfere with SRB1 or CD81 binding, block virus entry and are neutralizing antibodies. Therefore, understanding the structure of E2, how it interacts with both cellular receptors and how antibodies prevent these interactions are pivotal for vaccine development. Through our studies, we have identified a leading HCV vaccine candidate (HepSeeVaxDelta3) that we are currently assessing in preclinical studies as a recombinant protein, as a virus-like particle and incorporated in viral vector delivery technologies with T cell immunogens. Our unique access to HCV infected cohorts has enabled the development of technology to mine B cells from PBMCs using our vaccine candidate and define novel antibody specificities and immune targets. We use a variety of methodologies including molecular virology, cell biology, bioinformatics, immunology, structural biology and biochemical approaches.
Major projects:Prophylactic vaccine development for the elimination of
Hepatitis C; The elimination of Hepatitis C as a global public health threat; Profiling the specificity of the neutralizing antibody response in people who have long term protection from developingchronic HCV; Structural studies of the HCV glycoprotein E2.