Oxford Ph.D. student Romain Guyon receives Michelson Prize for innovative work to create a single-dose rabies vaccine research. The Michelson Prize will give Guyon the opportunity to explore manufacturing methods, demonstrate the scale-up potential of the technology, and pave the way for human clinical trials.
Romain Guyon, a Ph.D. student at the University of Oxford, is currently researching a single-dose vaccination against a disease that is widely-known, but mistakenly perceived as having little impact on human health. “More than 60,000 people die of rabies annually,” Guyon says. “Mostly due to inadequate or incomplete access to the post-exposure prophylaxis vaccine, which requires four injections within four weeks post-exposure.”
Guyon’s aim is to develop a shot that delivers the effect of a booster vaccine alongside the initial, priming vaccine. “I have developed a microfluidic-based technology to create single injection vaccines,” Guyon explains. “The aim of my research is to encapsulate the vaccine booster dose into microparticles that are injected alongside the prime dose in a single shot.”
The biodegradable particles delay the booster release in the body, creating a single injection vaccine to replace the current multi-injection regimen. This would result in an effective solution to difficulties related to vaccination compliance and, most importantly, sub-optimal immunization rates against rabies, largely in the developing world. A single dose vaccine would also cut down on the logistical and cost burdens associated with multiple vaccine doses.
In recognition and support of this aim, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation and the Human Immunome Project (formerly the Human Vaccines Project) have selected Guyon as a recipient of the 2022 Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants.
The Grant, which is given annually to investigators 35 or younger who are focused on human immunology, vaccine discovery, and immunotherapy, will power research that reflects Guyon’s early attraction to science: “I grew up with an insatiable curiosity and passion to solve problems, even at a young age. Becoming a scientist was a way to satisfy this curiosity and solve problems that will hopefully have a positive global impact.”
After graduating in Biosciences Engineering at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées of Lyon, France in 2018, Guyon was awarded the NDM Prize Studentship at the University of Oxford, where he is finishing a DPhil in Clinical Medicine.
As part of his postdoctoral studies at Oxford, he plans to further develop his work on single-dose vaccine technology, a subject area that’s fascinated him since university. “Vaccination not only has an impact at the individual level, but also at a population scale, making it a very interesting subject to work on.
Due to the complexity of vaccine development and its need for expertise across multidisciplinary skill sets, I find the area highly intriguing,” says Guyon. The $150,000 Michelson Prize will allow Guyon to significantly expand his research in the field.
“The Prize is a wonderful opportunity for me to establish my independence as an early career researcher and drive an ambitious research project that can transform future vaccination strategies,” Guyon says. “The financial support will allow me to conduct different in vitro and in vivo studies, encapsulating the rabies vaccines inside the delayed delivery particles, to identify the most promising formulations that maximize the immune response in a single injection.”
The Prize will also give Guyon the opportunity to explore different manufacturing methods, demonstrate the scale-up potential of the technology, and pave the way for human clinical trials.
The latter is a prospect that excites Guyon the most, “The potential of this technology being assessed in human trials which, in turn, could result in its use in global vaccination campaigns is hugely motivating.”
Learn more about the 2022 Michelson Prize recipients here.