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Dr Sadarangani gave a talk on the body's immune response to novel vaccines at the Winter Science Meeting 2015 at the Academy of Medical Sciences this month. His efforts to make the talk accessible and engage with a lay audience won him the Communications Prize.

The summary of Dr Sadarangani's project:

What is this project about? There are 500,000 cases of meningococcal disease (blood poisoning and meningitis) per year worldwide, and 1 in 10 people will die. A new meningococcal vaccine introduced in the UK in 2015 includes part of the bacterial membrane, known as an outer membrane vesicle or OMV. In this study we immunised 26 healthy adults with 3 doses of a new vaccine (MenPF) which also contains OMV. We tested their blood to look at how they responded to the vaccine and which genes were switched ‘on’ or ‘off’ after vaccination. 

Why is it important? We need to know more about vaccines which contain OMV to understand how to make better vaccines in the future - at the moment they often cause fever, and multiple doses are needed. No one has previously used genetic studies to address this.

What were the results? All participants responded well to the vaccine and had high antibody levels after 3 doses. Specific genes involved in injury and inflammation were switched on or off within 4-6 hours after the 1st dose. This tells us, for the first time, what is happening in the body very early after vaccination. A different set of genes were switched on or off 24 hours after the 3rd dose, and these are involved in a specific type of the body’s immune response. This information tells us exactly what is happening after vaccination and we may be able to use this to design better vaccines in the future, which cause fewer side effects and work better.