Researchers highlight latest advances at American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting

SEATTLE — Members of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research joined other researchers for the 71st annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Oct. 30-November 3.

The annual meeting brought together health professionals from around the world representing universities, foundations, government, nonprofit organizations, the private sector, the military, and private practice. This year’s meeting marked the return of in-person presentations and attendance, after two years of virtual attendance due to pandemic precautions.

“ASTMH is an incredibly valuable opportunity for our scientists to share their own work and learn about the work of other leaders in the field,” said Dr. Karen Peterson, Scientific Director of WRAIR. “Diseases such as dengue fever and malaria have proven incredibly difficult to defeat, but in addition to making important contributions to work in these areas, WRAIR has demonstrated a long-term dedication to developing better countermeasures to these and other emerging diseases across the globe.”

WRAIR members held several keynotes and poster presentations throughout the week, covering the latest research on dengue, Zika, SARS-CoV-2, malaria and more. One of the symposia focused on the structure-based development of second-generation circumsporozoite protein (CSP) vaccines, which allowed vaccinologists and epidemiologists to meet and discuss updates in malaria vaccines that could lead to better candidates than the one currently approved to control malaria.

“It was great to highlight the institute’s efforts in this area and present data on the immuno-expanding FMP013/ALFQ vaccine which completed a Phase 1 efficacy trial in September,” said Dr. Sheetij Dutta, Biologicals Research and Development Branch, Head of the Structural Vaccinology Laboratory. “The TMV-NPNAx5 immune-focused vaccine is currently in development and is expected to enter production under good manufacturing practices (GMP) in 2023. Several groups were interested in our TMV technology and further contacts are underway.

Additionally, Lt. Col. Paul Robben, Biologics Research Directorate, Chief Clinical Investigator, presented an oral abstract titled Soluble PfCSP (FMP013) Adjuvanted in ALFQ Induces Sterile Protection in a Phase 1 Trial with Controlled Human Malaria Infection Challenge in malaria-naïve adults.

“This was the first public release of preliminary results from our study, and the results have been well received by the scientific community,” Robben said. “The impacts of COVID-19 on vaccine development will be felt for many years, and our findings help demonstrate that the DOD research enterprise is actively participating in this innovation.”

Robben noted that many new findings of significant significance were presented at the conference by a wide range of highly respected personalities across all disciplines, which include tropical medicine.

“Government labs pursue designated lines of effort and industry, and academia’s activities reflect their specific interests, but it’s especially clear at meetings such as the ASTMH how parties can all come together in the midst of science and collaboratively address their individual needs while advancing the field for everyone,” Robben said.

He also noted how the data from his presentation complemented the FMP013/ALFQ Expanded Immunity Vaccine Symposium session hosted by Dutta.

“Robben’s presentation was very well received and his colleagues urged us to continue developing this vaccine and advancing it in the field,” Dutta said.

The annual meeting also held a special memorial symposium to recognize the contributions of Major General (Retired) Dr. Phil Russell, former Commander of WRAIR and President of the ASTMH. Russell has dedicated his life to infectious disease research through the development of vaccines and the preservation of global health. With over 100 authored and co-authored research publications, the founding of the Sabin Institute, and a primary advisor to many government, non-profit, and professional organizations, the ASTMH has helped remember his career that spanned 60 years.

“It was an honor to be reminded of his considerable contribution to the epidemiology of dengue, Ebola and Zika viruses and to the development of vaccines,” said Dutta.

According to the ASTMH website, there were 4,753 in-person and virtual attendees, including 1,507 first-time registrants. At the end of the meeting, the researchers reflected on the overall experience.

“Over several decades, WRAIR has made many important contributions to the treatment and prevention of viral, bacterial and parasitic infections,” Peterson said. “Conferences like these provide scientists at all stages of their careers with the opportunity to network and create future collaborations, which is a critical part of how WRAIR fulfills its research mission.”

Date taken: 17.11.2022
Date posted: 17.11.2022 15:57
Story ID: 433438
Location: SEATTLE, Washington, United States

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