Katherine Smith M
Senior Scientist, Arbovax, Inc
University of Virginia, USA
bio:Dr. Katherine Smith is a cell and molecular biologist with an interest in virus-cell interactions. Her academic research encompassed cell, developmental, and microbiological fields and employed the use of recombinant DNA techniques, antibody production and use, DNA and RNA analysis and quantification, and animal husbandry. She successfully cloned two novel genes during the course of her graduate career and engineered numerous mutant DNA constructs. Dr. Smith received her bachelors’ degree in Biology with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and obtained her Ph.D. in Cell Biology at the University of Virginia. After a post-doctorate tenure at the University of Virginia, she worked as a research scientist in the International Technology Assessment division of Battelle Memorial Institute prior to joining Arbovax as a Senior Scientist. At Arbovax, Dr. Smith is working on the production and testing of a novel live-virus vaccine for Dengue fever and other insect-transmitted viruses.
surprising to me that there were still infectious diseases for which there were no treatments. When I learned about Arbovax’s technology and intention to produce a vaccine for the newly re-emerging threat of Dengue Fever, I was immediately on board! In just under four years, we have non-human primate data on a novel Dengue Virus serotype 2 vaccine that looks incredibly promising. With a relatively simple and straight forward design a vaccine candidate was created that yielded very strong neutralizing antibody responses in Green Monkeys, while not generating antibodies that don’t neutralize. This neutralizing vs. non-neutralizing antibody generation is a huge problem in the Dengue field, as non-neutralizing antibodies can lead to a more severe and often fatal form of Dengue Fever, Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. While we were hoping to see such a phenomenon based on the seminal work on Sindbis Virus, actually generating the result in a primate model was incredibly exciting. Now we hope to apply the same technology to other insect-transmitted viral diseases that currently have no vaccine or treatment.