We recently discover a new immune escape mechanism that may help viruses escape from immune detection, which might compromise vaccine efficacy. Viruses that cause chronic infection in human contain higher numbers of T cell epitopes whose TCR-facing amino acids are identical to those of numerous peptides from the human proteome. We postulate that viruses that incorporate such human-like epitopes may exploit host tolerance to avoid or suppress effector responses. In order to predict these human-like epitopes, we developed an immunoinformatics tool, JanusMatrix.

Using JanusMatrix, we have identified T cell epitopes in H7N9 influenza HA protein that are highly conserved with human genome epitopes, and these epitopes possess low immunogenicity, activate natural Tregs and suppress bystander effector T cell responses in vitro. The human like T cell epitopes may contribute to the delayed, low titer of H7N9 hemagglutination inhibiting antibody responses and diminished seroconversion rates that have been observed in human infections and unadjuvanted H7 HA vaccination clinical trials. We also turned our attention to HIV-1 and found several such epitopes in the envelope (Env) protein of HIV-1, one of which was included in both the HIV-1 E and HIV-1 B Env antigens that were used in the ‘moderately effective’ HIV RV144 trial in Thailand. Validation of the immunological role of these epitopes is in the process.


  • April 15, 2016

    ISV & Vaccine Renaissance Conference – CALL FOR ABSTRACTS!

    The 2016 ISV Annual Congress in collaboration with Vaccine Renaissance X and DNA Vaccine will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, United States on Oct. 2-4, 2016.    Registration abstract is opening soon! The planning committee encourages you to submit an abstract for consideration! Abstract Submission Deadline: June 24th Abstract Decision Deadline: July 15th
  • March 11, 2016

    10th Annual Vaccine Renaissance Save the Date Postcard

    CLICK HERE to see the save the date postcard for 2016 ISV Conference
  • February 19, 2016

    iCubed Team Members Making Moves

    This past week at iCubed, Dr. Barbara Lohman Payne received a new title of Associate Research Professor. Barbara joined iCubed and URI as a Research Assistant Professor in 2013, with the Laboratory of Viral Immunity and Pathogenesis. Dr. Lohman-Payne’s area of research is viral immunopathology, with special interest in the impact of HIV exposure in ...