Virtual VDC
December 7, 2022

Public Health

A Tale of Two Viruses:
It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair……."
(with apologies to Charles Dickens).

Dennis Burton, PhD

Department of Immunology and Microbiology Diseases
Scripps Research Institute

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (all times Eastern time zone)
6:25pm — Grab a beer, soda, or a glass of wine from the fridge and get online
6:30pm — Meeting called to order in the usual way (ear muffs optional)
6:40pm — This is the part where some really excellent science is presented
7:30pm — Q & A
7:45pm — Adjourn, already dreaming of next month's program

Dear Vaccineers,

A Tale of Two Viruses
Zoonotic disease
Took the globe by storm
Politically and socially controversial
STILL killing large numbers of people
Better at mutating than the X-men are*
Trigger broadly neutralizing antibodies
Vaccine Preventable

*OK… this isn't actually a fair comparison since fewer Covid mutations have been generated collectively within everyone on the planet since 2019 than the number of mutations that can be generated daily in one single person with HIV.

But be that as it may, it has been 41 years since HIV first hit the scientific radar … shouldn't we have a vaccine for it by now? Well, it's all about the mutations.

If you remember that vaccines work by basically saying: "Yo, immune system! Here is a picture of the bad bug that you should be hunting for; when you see something that looks like this, build a battalion of antibodies against it and attack on sight!" -- so the whole thing quickly devolves into a biologic arms race wherein antibodies are constantly looking for a known weakness -- ala the viral version of a Star Wars Death Star thermal exhaust port – even as viruses are constantly changing up their architecture in order to eliminate the found flaws … thereby forcing us to update our vaccines.

But what if we were able to produce especially talented antibodies that are capable of more broadly neutralizing all the most crucial bits of a virus at once? Some fortunate few individuals seem to be able to do just that. Which suggests an intriguing route for vaccine development in BOTH the fields of Covid and HIV….

Join us at the December meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club when Dr. Dennis Burton talks about approaches to making vaccines against the two viruses given their sequence diversity. In particular, isolating and characterizing broadly neutralizing antibodies to these viruses as a starting point for vaccine design.

Sound intriguing?

Your friendly neighborhood Vaccine Dinner Club Goddess