Research Projects (Third party funds)

HCV vaccine

Development of a prophylactic HCV vaccine candidate

This project aims at defining the humoral immune correlates of spontaneous recovery from HCV infection (aim 1) and to translate this knowledge into design of protective vaccine antigens (aim 2). Specifically, we will determine the relevance of specific antibodies subtypes and epitope specificity for spontaneous viral clearance and for protection from HCV reinfection after viral clearance.

Combining expertises

By combining the expertises of Prof. Alice McHardy, Prof. Florian Klein and Prof. Thomas Pietschmann we will be able monitor co-evolution of HCV and the antibody response in HCV infection. To this end, patients with particularly strong neutralizing antibody responses and available longitudinal samples will be selected. Using NGS, we will monitor virus and antibody evolution to map pathways of antibody development towards high affinity for key cross-neutralizing epitopes (McHardy, Klein and Pietschmann).

Direct translation

The cooperation with T. Krey and C. Guzman will permit direct translation of this information into structure-guided vaccination approaches. Antibody specificities will be resolved by B cell cloning (Klein) and virus and antibody sequencing (McHardy/Klein/Pietschmann) combined with functional screening (Klein/Pietschmann). Based on this information, a vaccination strategy (Guzman/Krey/Pietschmann) will be devised that elicits humoral immunity matching the one that correlates with HCV clearance in humans (aim 2).


  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Pietschmann Pietschmann, Abt. Experimentelle Virologie Virologie, Twincore, Hannover
  • Prof. Dr. Alice McHardy McHardy, Abt. Bioinformatik der Infektionsforschung Infektionsforschung, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Braunschweig
  • Prof. Dr. Carlos A. Guzmán Guzmán, Abt. Vakzinologie und Angewandte Mikrobiologie Mikrobiologie, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Braunschweig
  • Prof. Dr. Ralf Bartenschlager Bartenschlager, Abt. Molekulare Virologie Virologie, Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg


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