Kristyn spent her time in the TRIAD Summer Fellowship Workshop working with the iVAX toolkit. The iVAX toolkit consists of a set of in silico algorithms that design epitope driven vaccine candidates from input protein sequences. The algorithms take these input sequences (pathogen genomes or other sequences) and run them through a series of winnowing steps to generate a set of selected peptides (putative T cell epitopes and/or immunogenic consensus sequences) that are likely to be highly immunogenic across a large portion of the human population while at the same time being highly unlikely to generate an unwanted (tolerogenic or autoimmune) immune response.
While working on her project, Kristyn made use of the iVAX tools to help develop and design potential vaccine candidates from input sequences by obtaining those small peptides that are potentially highly immunogenic. Additionally, she used the tools to help design and evaluate potential therapeutics to help ensure that the therapeutics do no elicit unwanted immune responses. She then uploaded protein sequences into the in silico algorithms and guided them through the necessary steps to determine a small set of potentially highly immunogenic peptides that are suitable for synthesis and testing in vitro to further the development and production of vaccines against various infectious diseases. She also assisted in the analysis of the data that is returned following the use of each individual algorithm in the toolkit.
In the future Kristyn plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health, which she hopes can relate to prevention, alleviation and tracking of infectious diseases. She feels the knowledge she gained through her project will be of great use to her in future endeavors.