A novel immunisation methodology

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Immunisation stimulates an individual’s immune system in order to increases their resistance to specific pathogens. The theory behind the process of immunisation has been known for centuries, but in general the systemic nature of vaccines has remained unchanged.

Oxford researchers have developed a novel, targeted approach to immunisation wherein a generalised T-cell response is initiated with a traditional-style vaccination  route  (e.g. an intramuscular) before the T-cells are subsequently targeted to a specific organ. This “prime and target” approach has shown 100% efficacy against murine malaria where the T-cells are targeted  to the liver using an intravenuous boost.


The process of immunisation has been carried out for centuries and has generally relied on the administration of an antigenic material, which stimulates an immune response, ultimately conveying systemic resistance to a specific pathogen. This has proven to be a highly effective methodology, resulting in the eradication of smallpox and the restriction of other diseases such as polio and tetanus. Despite these successes, this approach has fallen short when it comes to certain diseases, in particular, malaria.


In 2015 malaria transmission was shown to be ongoing in 95 countries, putting 3.2 billion people at risk. In the same year, there were an estimated 214 million cases of malaria resulting in 438,000 deaths. There are currently no commercially available vaccines for malaria and prevention relies on several strategies such as vector control, anti-malarial medicines and physical precautions. Vaccines effective at preventing malaria are needed and have the potential to save millions of lives. The WHO recognises this and has published the Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap with the goal of licensing malaria vaccines by 2030.

Prime and Target

Researchers at Oxford have developed a new immunisation methodology which focuses on the localisation of the immune response resulting from vaccination. The first step involves the intramuscular administration of a recombinant adenovirus, which stimulates a T-cell response in an analogous fashion to a “classical” vaccine. Subsequent treatment with alternative routes of the same adenovirus localises the T-cells in the target tissue where the immune response is needed. This approach is highly effective when targeting the liver, resulting in a 100% efficacy against murine malaria.

Key advantages of this immunisation methodology:

  • Outperforms current immunisation techniques
  • Targeted to a specific organ system
  • Highly effective against malaria
  • Potential applications against other infectious diseases and cancer
  • Both prophylactic and therapeutic immunisation possible

This novel approach has the potential to provide vaccines against a range of diseases, which currently pose a severe threat to public health.

Patent Protection

This technology is subject to patent application WO 2017/178809.
Oxford University Innovation is seeking external partners who wish to explore the use of this methodology for commercial applications. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30257955/

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