FLUTCORE – teleconference Wednesday, December 18th, 10.00 GMT (11.00 CET) Minutes Chair: Mike Whelan, Coordinator [MW] (iQur) Participants: David Blanco [DB] (3P) Magda Campins [MC] (ICS-HUVH) Amelie Guisseau [AG] (UCL-ERIO) Andris Kazaks [AK] (LBMC) Claude P. Muller [CM] (CRP-Santé) William Rosenberg [WR] (UCL) Dave Rowlands [DR] (Univ-Leeds) Sam Stephen [SS] (Univ-Leeds) Nicola Stonehouse [NS] (Univ-Leeds) Kaspars Tars [KT] (LBMC) Sonia Uriona [SU] (ICS-HUVH) Apologies for absence: Tarit Mukhopadhay (UCL) The meeting was opened and chaired by MW, Coordinator. Welcome and introduction, Dr. Mike Whelan (Project Coordinator) MW thanks the participants for attending the teleconference. He introduces Prof. WR, founder and CEO of iQur. WR introduces himself to the group and provides an overview of his background expertise and research interest in hepatology and virology. He reminds the history of iQur Limited: originally focused on liver disease and now concentrating on therapeutics and vaccine development. MW introduces Prof. DR. DR briefly presents the history of his laboratory at the University of Leeds where the tandem core was originally invented and introduces SS, post-doctoral researcher newly recruited to work on the FLUTCORE project. Finally, MW introduces Prof MC who was unfortunately unable to join in the London kickoff meeting. MC tells the group that she is looking forward to hosting the next group meeting in Barcelona. CM then presents the team to be involved in the project at CRP-Santé, composed of a postdoctoral researcher (I-Na Lu), a Masters student (Aliki Papkonstantinou) and a technician (Sophie), all working in the laboratory of immunology at CRP-Santé. Other participants in the teleconference are: AK and KT for LBMC in Riga, SU for HUVH in Barcelona and DB for 3P. Review of action points resulting from the kickoff meeting AG reviews the different action points discussed at the kick-off meeting in London. In particular: Action 5: composition of the external advisory board Partners were asked to think about and propose names of potential external advisors to form the project External Advisory Board. The following experts have been proposed so far: Prof. Adolfo García-Sastre - Mount Sinai Hospital. N Y (USA) Dr. Peter Pushko - University of North Carolina Prof. Wendy Barclay - Imperial College London Prof Jeff Almond – University of Oxford Prof. Benedikt Sas - Professor Corporate & Innovation Management / Chief Business Officer at Ghent University to cover the regulatory aspects of the project. WR enquires about the periodicity of External Advisory Board meetings and raises the issue of associated travel costs for experts travelling from outside Europe. AG answers that External Advisory Board members shall formally meet once a year, jointly with the Governing Board and will also be kept informed about the project progress more informally on a regular basis. She confirms that the project would cover the costs for EAB members’ travelling and accommodation, however no extra remuneration can be provided to the appointed experts. It is agreed to identify a specific budget for the External Advisory Panel meetings over the course of the project. Action 1: MW to circulate a list of names to the FLUTCORE board for approval Action 2: AG to provide an estimation of the cost for travelling costs for EAB members Action 6 and 7: communication Natalia Elizalde has contacted the European Enterprise Network to enquire about the kind of information/material needed from the project/partners. The only reservation remains that they seem to want to take credit for setting up the project and the consortium. DB confirms that 3P will continue to investigate if collaboration is possible and will update the team in due course. MC raises the issue of the dissemination strategy to be implemented for the project, and suggests creating a brochure to presents the project and facilitate the recruitment of patients. The brochure will be elaborated with the help of the communication team of the Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron and will be translated in Spanish. All participants agree with this proposal. AG adds that a detailed dissemination plan will be elaborated within the first year of the project to ensure an effective dissemination for the project results. MW suggests that the text from the final version of the FLUTCORE website should be used for this purpose. MW finally informs the team that the next ESWI Influenza Conference will be held in Riga on 14th– 17th September 2014 (http://www.eswiconference.org/), and this looks like a very good opportunity to discuss the progress of the project with and receive inputs from the influenza scientific community. A call for abstract will be published on the 1st of February and CM suggests submitting a proposal for a specific session or workshop to be organised by FLUTCORE on universal influenza vaccine. Action 3: 3P to organise a teleconference with EEN and MW. Action 4: MW to revert to ESWI and ask if a FLUTCORE session on universal influenza vaccine seems feasible. Action 8: start of WP2 activities NS updates the participants about the start of the WP2 activities. A teleconference will be organised in January with 3P to discuss the method development in regards the requirements of GMP manufacture. Inputs from iQur will also be provided in the determination of the long-term stability of VLPs. MW adds that a meeting with iQur is scheduled in Leeds for early January where the method for routine electron microscopic analysis of VLPs will be finalised, as well as the list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) required. Action 5: Leeds to propose some possible dates for this meeting in Leeds. Progress of the work 2 deliverables have been completed so far and submitted to the EC and so the project is currently on track: D1.1, Biosafety report and D9.1, constitution of the steering committee We have recently heard from the project officer who has confirmed that D1.1 has been completed with no further amendments required. The next deliverable D2.1: Method for routine electron microscopic analysis of VLPs which was initially due by the end of December will be submitted with a slight delay but NS confirms that this report should be ready in January. MW then provides a detailed update on the progress of other workpackages’ activities. He reports on a number of experiments performed by the iQur team in London. In particular, he explains that intial animal experiments support the use of the codon optimised heterotandem (CoHo) version of tandem core. As a result, all new clones are being made using this backbone. He further reports that purification has been greatly improved by the addition of a second size exclusion column containing the resin S1000. Coupled with vastly improved expression, which has resulted from the advice of the Latvian partners, he is confident that yeast could be used as the expression vector of choice.He reports that an initial virus challenge experiment was not successful, despite clear evidence of Seroconversion and thinks that this is due to the severity of the influenza dose. CM confirmed that this was likely to be an issue. WR recommends that a new LD50 be carried out on virus stocks. CM proposes to provide iQur with the optimal dose requested to measure the PRA. AK and KT report on difficulties encountered with yeast expression of tandem core and MW proposes to send a yeast clone that is working to Riga. It is generally agreed that the assembly of tandem core is likely to be inferior to wild-type core protein and that improved purification methodology may overcome this limitation. NS explains that the team in Leeds is waiting for the samples to be sent by consortium partners to begin the analysis work. MW proposes that some of the material that iQur are currently developing could be used and will send this in January. It is agreed that only yeast tandem core would suffice since bacterial VLPs will not have the same level of background. CM and the team in Luxembourg present the progress of their activities in regards antigens selection. It is agreed that CRP-Santé will circulate a list of selected antigens once the construct is finalised. It is agreed that vectors made in Luxembourg will be sent to iQur for expression and purification. Once this is complete, VLP will be returned to Luxembourg for in vivo testing. CM reminds that samples without VLPs will not be used for vaccination. It is advised that potential intellectual property issues linked to the antigens selected by Luxembourg should be investigated. Action 6: CM to send dosage information for PRA measurement Action 7: iQur to carry out LD50 in mice Action 8: iQur to send a yeast clone that is working to Riga Action 9: iQur to send purified VLP to Leeds for EM development Action 10: iQur to investigate potential intellectual property issues linked to the peptise to be used Project website The project website: www.flutcore.eu is now live and all members of the team are encouraged to register. MW enquires whether each partner could provide a short description of their organisation for publication on the website. It is agreed to use the website as the main repository to exchange data and information about experiments results. Action 11: all participants to register to the FLUTCORE website Action 12: each partner to provide a brief description of their organisation for publication on the website Date for the next FLUTCORE partner meeting The next FLUTCORE meeting will be held on Thursday, 24th April 2014 at the Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona. Participants are invited to travel on the 23rd to allow an early start of the meeting on the 24th. A conference dinner will be organised on the 23rd. Action 13: all partners to save the date of 24th April 2014. Action 14: AG to revert to MC and her team at HUVH in January to begin preparations for the meeting. There being no other business, MW thanks again all participants for attending and closes the teleconference at 12.00 GMT (13.00 CET).