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Developing new approaches for emerging and re-emerging diseases

Published on 24 November 2017

The classical vaccination approach, which uses an attenuated or inactive form of a pathogen to trigger a specific immune response, is unsuccessful against many serious infectious diseases, including AIDS, hepatitis C, tuberculosis and Chikungunya. The teams of the IDMIT department at the François Jacob Institute of Biology are interested in the mechanisms of infection and pathogen entry, the response of the infected organism, and the first steps in the immune response. By improving these bodies of knowledge, the teams are able to participate in the development and validation of novel vaccine strategies, in addition to new prophylaxes and therapies.

The laboratories of the François Jacob Institute of biology can be mobilized by the government during a health crisis, particularly an epidemic. This was the case during the mad cow disease crisis (a post mortem diagnostic test was developed in Fontenay-aux-Roses to distinguish between healthy and diseased animals), during the avian influenza epidemic, and even more recently during the Chikungunya epidemics in Réunion and the Antilles.

At the IDMIT department, scientists are particularly interested in the first steps of the immune response, which is crucial to vaccination. This epidermal section example reveals the cell nuclei (in blue) and dendritic cells (in pink). These cells intervene to introduce a foreign agent to the immune system. © CEA

IDMIT, a national infrastructure for the study of infectious diseases

IDMIT is an “Infrastructure Nationale en Biologie et Santé” (National Infrastructure in Biology and Health) dedicated to the modelling of infectious diseases and innovative therapies. It is supported by the Investissements d’Avenir program to focus on preclinical vaccine research programs and antimicrobial treatments for human use. This infrastructure, unique within Europe, gathers all of the leading French players in the field. The main objective of IDMIT is to provide the national and international scientific communities with the equipment and means to facilitate the discovery of markers showing that the vaccines and treatments are safe and efficient, and to accelerate the transfer of innovation from research to the patient.