Development of a Vaccine Against Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness)
with Dr. Delphine Autheman, PhD
Tues. April 26, 2022, 12:00 - 12:50 pm, via Zoom
This presentation will focus on the development of a vaccine against African trypanosomiasis.  African trypanosomiasis is a parasitic infection caused by flagellated extracellular parasites that survive in the tissue fluids and the bloodstream, affecting both humans and animals. It is colloquially referred to as "sleeping sickness" due to the disturbed sleep patients experience when infected. The animal African trypanosomiasis (AAT) – also called Nagana – is caused by the tsetse-fly-transmitted parasites Trypanosoma congolense and Trypanosoma vivax and to a lesser extent Trypanosoma brucei brucei. All these parasites have a wide host range, which includes most economically important livestock species such as cattle and goat, causing estimated losses of over US $1,300 million per year in resource-poor settings. As no anti-AAT vaccine is available, control of the disease relies essentially on chemotherapy/chemoprophylaxis treatments and vector control.

These approaches have inherent limitations such as drug resistance and a prohibitively high cost to resource-poor farmers. Thus, the development of an efficient anti-AAT vaccine for livestock remains essential to fight the disease in endemic areas.

To address this issue, a new vaccine developmental strategy will be used to target cell-surface proteins for the two main species which cause AAT, T. congolense and T. vivax. A library of functional recombinant secreted and cell-surface proteins for both parasites will be created using a mammalian expression system, and then systematically screened to evaluate their potential antigenic activities. The selection of the T. congolense and T. vivax cell-surface proteins in the libraries will be done with a genomic-driven approach, including RNA sequencing. (Information from the Wellcome Sangar Institute)


Dr. Delphine Autheman is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of York UK, collegiate research university, located in the city of York, England. She is working on animal African trypanosome cell-surface proteins to identify new vaccine targets, with a special interest for Trypanosoma congolense and Trypanosoma vivax.  Dr. Autheman received her undergrad degree in Biochemistry, MSc in Physiology and Neuroscience, a Humanitarian Health degree and Master in Neuroscience from Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1.  She completed a PhD in Cellular and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Bern in 2012 after which she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institut Pasteur until 2014.  At the Institut Pasteur she investigated new therapies against Trypanosoma cruzi infection and tissue pathology.  She was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK from 2015 - 2021 where her research focused on genome-led vaccine target discovery for animal African trypanosomiasis.    She now continues this work at the University of York.  She has been an active member of Aide au Dévelopement en Biologie Médicale with Biologie Sans Frontières since 2007.