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Dr Béhazine Combadiere
Inserm research director, co-Director of the Centre for Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital, Paris, France
Research interests: Vaccination 50 years from now
From “variolation” to the “Pasteur revolution”, vaccination is a method that focuses on stimulating the body’s natural defenses (the immune system) through contact with a weakened form or part of an infectious agent (bacteria, virus, parasite, toxin, etc.), in order to induce protection against infectious diseases and certain cancers. Modern immunology has made it possible to propose new strategies either for the design of a vaccine or for its administration. Some examples of this are DNA vaccines, virosomes, “virus-like particles” and viral vectors, conjugates and “RNA”.
Moreover, the discovery of new cells that play a role in immunity known as dendritic cells, and their presence in strategic tissues for immune system defense such as skin, nasal and vaginal mucous membranes and the intestines has made it possible to envisage alternative vaccination sites. This has led to the emergence of some important aspects of current “vaccinology”: routes of administration and adjuvants.
The diverse nature of populations – in terms of age, associated risk factors, (obesity, pregnancy, autoimmune diseases), environment, an individual’s immune history (infection, vaccination) – favors vaccination tailored to the population and accordingly a search for the best predictive indicators as to its efficacy and innocuousness through a multidisciplinary approach.
According to the World Health Organization, vaccination saves life of 2 million people each year worldwide and could save even more lives in the future. Emerging diseases that are amplified by the rapid movement of people around the world, cancers, some of which are viral in origin, reactivation of old infectious diseases, respiratory pathologies, some of which cannot be treated: HIV, malaria and tuberculosis are all targets for research and for the development of new vaccination strategies. There are currently grounds to believe that due to innovation in basic research and clinical trials in human and social sciences, protection of all age brackets within the population is possible.
During her PhD program, Dr. Behazine Combadière contributed to the field of HIV immune responses by studying negative regulation of HIV-specific CD8 responses in HIV-infected individuals, what she completed in murine models at the National Institutes of Health (NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA).
Back to France (1998), she obtained a permanent position as a research associate and young investigator award (French Agency of research) and pursues her research to decipher immune responses to cancer and then infectious diseases (mainly HIV, Influenza viruses and Smallpox).She also contributed to the understanding of persistence of immune memory after infection or vaccination. She showed that 25 years after end of Smallpox vaccination (absence of circulating pathogens), the intensity of persistent T CD4 cell memory responses depend on the time since the first immunization and not since the last vaccination. From there, she focused on the understanding of initiation of immune responses and its impact on immune memory. Dr. Behazine Combadière has been pioneer in vaccine immunity and delivery by hair follicular targeting and has brought from concept into clinical trials this novel needle-free vaccination method. The skin mode of vaccine administration is one the principal aspect of research to develop novel immunization strategies that will increase the efficiency of vaccination in the population. Dr. Behazine Combadière also coordinated FP6 European projects as a work-package leader of “Preclinical mice model for vaccine immunogenicity” (MuNanoVac, Mucosal Nanoparticle Vaccines) and Europrise.