Pertussis (whooping cough) continues to be a problem despite high vaccination coverage against Bordetella pertussis, the bacterium that causes the disease. Annually, there are 24 million cases of pertussis and ~160,700 deaths worldwide. Pertussis is a respiratory disease that is transmitted from person to person through airborne droplets and poses a threat to unvaccinated infants and children whose immunity has dropped. Currently, there are two forms of the vaccine in use. The first is the killed whole-cell vaccine (wP), which is effective, but has side-effects such as swelling at the site of injection and fever. These adverse effects have diminished its acceptance in high-income countries and led to its replacement by the acellular vaccine (aP) that only contains purified components of the organism. While the aP vaccine protects against getting pertussis, it does not prevent transmission of the disease and fails to provide long-term immunity.
We aim to develop two new vaccine candidates: a revised wP and a novel aP to control the re-emergence of pertussis. This will be done through modifying some of the structural components of the bacteria to either alleviate the side effects or overcome the deficiencies of the wP and aP vaccines.