PERtussIS COrrelates of Protection Europe

The PERISCOPE consortium aims to generate knowledge on immune responses to pertussis. Pertussis is a highly contagious, respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Despite high vaccination coverage in developed/industrialised countries, pertussis or whooping cough, is re-emerging since the 1990’s throughout the world. This resurgance, as well as the persistent low level of vaccination coverage and still high infant mortality caused by pertussis in low income countries, call/urge for a concerted effort to improve current prophylactic vaccines and vaccination strategies for pertussis.

Better understanding of human biomarkers of protective immune responses to B. pertussis, and its waning immunity is needed to accelerate the design and testing of  new pertussis vaccines with a longer duration of protection. The PERISCOPE consortium has received five years international financial support to develop knowledge and capacity to unravel principles of durable immunity to B. pertussis.

PERISCOPE will focus on leveraging existing vaccines (and their antigens) and infection-induced immunity to biomarkers of protection.

RIVM role

RIVM participates in four work packages of PERISCOPE. Our prime role is to perform clinical studies, involving participants of various age groups having received different existing pertussis vaccines, or participants who were naturally infected by B. pertussis. In addition, the effect of priming with a whole cell vaccine versus an acellular vaccine on the development of pertussis immunity will be studied in a neonatal/maternal clinical study. By using blood samples from all these participants, biomarkers of immune responses specific for B. pertussis can be investigated. New immunological assays which go beyond the current state of the art will be developed for this task.  RIVM will also play a crucial role in providing a well characterised natural B. pertussis strain for the development of challenge models. 

RIVM staff involved are Cécile van Els, PhD, and Guy Berbers, PhD, Annemarie Buisman, PhD, and Marjolein van Gent, PhD, who are all based at the RIVM Centre for Infectious Disease Control. This centre coordinates the control of infectious diseases from a national and international perspective. In addition, the centre advises the Dutch Government on Immunology and Vaccinology and carries out research to generate knowledge and data on the immune response to infectious diseases and to vaccinations offered in the framework of the government’s infectious disease control programme. This covers not only the current immunisation programmes, such as the National Immunisation Programme, but also emerging infectious diseases and vaccinations to be offered in the future.