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PON01_00117 Antigens and Adjuvants for Vaccines and Immunotherapy


Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics Ltd.


36 months


Biotechnology, human health, microalgae

ERC sectors

LS7_3, LS6_11, LS7_9

Summary of the project

The therapeutic benefits of a stimulation of the innate immune system are well documented. Many substances of natural origin, including some lipidic or glycolipidic molecules are able to stimulate various cellular components of the innate immune system. Therefore metabolites of low molecular weight or lipid components of extracts of marine eukaryotic microorganisms may have activating properties of the innate immune cells and act as adjuvants or immune-modulators.
The innovative approach proposed in this project is based on a public-private partnership and belongs mainly to Areas of Convergence (Sicily, Calabria and Campania).
The project aims to achieve three important goals: 1. The development of innovative vaccines for bacterial and viral infections 2. The development of new molecules with adjuvant action and the study of the mechanism of action of those already known 3. The development of more effective and safe new viral vectors for the development of new vaccines.
The role of the Zoological Station in the project is to identify and cultivate species of marine microalgae that show potential antigen and adjuvant activities.

Descriptinos of the activity

The project involves 3 objectives:
OR 1. Identification of antigenic candidates for the development of potential vaccines against Streptococcus pneumoniae, Clostridium difficile, Escherichia coli pathogens, HCMV
OR 2. Identification of new adjuvants and analysis of the mechanism of action of known adjuvants
OR 3. Identification and validation of new Adenovirus and MVA vectors and Virus Like Particles for use as potential vaccines against infectious diseases (HCMV, Malaria, Influenza, RSV, etc.)
 The Zoological Station participates in activity 2.1
Activity 2.1. Identification of novel natural compounds with immune-modulatory and adjuvant activity from marine microalgae
and in particular in:
RI 2.1.1. Preparation of extracts and fractions from microalgae, isolation and identification of substances with immune-regulatory properties (Stazione Zoologica).
Extracts of marine organisms have already been shown to contain immune-regulatory substances (eg alpha galoctoside ceramide that can stimulate NKT cells) and lipids other than those present in humans. This project aims not only to identify new molecules able to interact with the immune system, but also to identify compounds for therapeutic formulations, for example compounds as adjuvants for vaccines. To this end, the group of dr. Ianora is preparing pellets of microalgae for the isolation and identification of substances with potentially immune-regulatory activity. The fractions are assayed by industrial partners (Novartis) for their ability to activate various cells and receptors of the innate immune system. The study will be performed in collaboration with IBB-CNR (SZN sub-contractor) who will characterize the various active components through the use of NMR techniques.

Time chart

PON01 00117 timechart

Expected results

To obtain at least one new natural compound from marine microalgae with immuno-stimulatory or adjuvant activity.

Tab 1 Costs

CostsValueTotal duration (months)
Total personnel costs 435.000 24
Total sub-contracting costs 140.000 24
Other costs 318.500 24
General costs 217.500  

Tab 2 Personnel SZN

  Total MM/person
Ianora Adrianna Senior researcher 8
Romano Giovanna Researcher 8
Esposito Francesco Technologist 10
Palumbo Flora CTER 10
Perna Massimo CTER 10
Cter 2 temp determinato CTER 22

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