The Immune Mechanisms of Protection Against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Centers (IMPAc-TB) program is an initiative established by NIAID in 2019 to elucidate the immune responses needed to protect against infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). The program will lead to a better understanding of tuberculosis (TB) immunology, which is critical to guide the design and development of new and improved TB vaccines, and it aligns with the goals of the NIAID Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis Research.
Main Areas of Focus
The IMPAc-TB program aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the immune responses required to prevent initial infection with Mtb, establishment of latent infection, and transition to active TB disease. To accomplish these objectives, multidisciplinary research teams will conduct immunological analyses of tissue-specific and systemic responses in small animals, non-human primates (NHPs), and humans to identify the key immune responses needed for protection against Mtb; identify immunologic targets that can be used to improve TB vaccine strategies; determine the impact of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections on relevant immune responses to Mtb infection or TB vaccines; and identify how bacterial immune evasion mechanisms subvert immune responses to Mtb.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston
Principal investigators: Sarah Fortune, M.D. (Harvard); Henry Boom, M.D. (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland); JoAnne Flynn, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh)
Center objective: The goal of this Center is to identify factors that protect people from Mtb infection and to translate these findings into improved vaccine strategies. A multidisciplinary research team will assess samples from NHPs and human cohorts, in whom infection is suppressed, to learn how their immune responses protect them from Mtb infection. Investigators will use computational modeling to predict the likely causes of suppressed infections, which will be tested in cellular and small animal models. Studies will evaluate the effect of intravenous (IV) bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination in rhesus macaques in response to Mtb challenge and the immune mechanisms responsible for controlling natural mycobacterial infection in cynomolgus macaques. Studies also will examine the effect of SIV infection on IV BCG vaccination using computational modeling and a systems biology approach. In collaboration with the Imperial College of London, the research team will compare the immune correlates of protection observed in the NHP studies with human responses. Human studies conducted by the Center also will also focus on exposed individuals that resist infection or that develop a transient infection response.
Seattle Children's Hospital
Principal investigator: Rhea Coler, Ph.D.
Center objective: This Center will identify the complex immune responses required to prevent Mtb infection or active TB disease by comparing and examining protective immune responses induced by natural mycobacterial infection or vaccines. The research team will evaluate recombinant protein vaccines combined with adjuvants to identify and validate common protective correlates of immunity in well-established animal models for TB and human challenge clinical studies where participants are deliberately exposed to BCG under carefully controlled conditions. The investigational vaccines to be evaluated are ID93 and M72 formulated with GLA-SE and other adjuvants developed by IDRI and contractors supported by NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation (DAIT). The studies also will address how immunity from previous BCG vaccination and natural nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infection affects the investigational vaccines’ effectiveness and ability to generate an immune response across species. The studies will provide crucial insights into the development of candidate vaccines that generate robust levels of durable, protective immunity against TB.
Seattle Children’s Hospital
Principal investigator: Kevin Urdahl, M.D., Ph.D.
Center objective: The goal of this Center is to inform the design of an effective TB vaccine by identifying the immune responses capable of controlling and potentially eradicating Mtb. The research team will identify and examine protective pathways in natural and vaccine-induced immunity by analyzing tissue-specific and systemic immunity in mice, NHPs, and humans. Investigators will examine immune correlates at three stages: the pre-infection immune stage; the early events after pulmonary infection; and the formation of granulomas (compact, organized structures of immune cells) during chronic infection. These studies will identify the immune responses required to protect the host from initial infection, establish latent infection, and prevent progression to active TB disease.