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Virology and Vaccine Development laboratory

vaccine; tumor; virology; immunology; poultry

Prof. Jacob Pitcovski

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Professor Pitcovski joins the European collaboration for developing vaccine adjuvants (ENOVA)


Professor Jacob Pitcovski, head of the Virology and Vaccine Development laboratory at MIGAL Galilee Research Institute has joined the European Network of Vaccine Adjuvants (ENOVA), which brings together European experts and stakeholders working in different areas of adjuvant and vaccine research and development, including both prophylactic and therapeutic applications as well as human and veterinary vaccines. ENOVA is funded by COST through the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020 and is coordinated by the Vaccine Formulation Institute. The goals of the network are to facilitate communication and the exchange of information on adjuvants and vaccine formulation among its members, to ensure that new discoveries are widely disseminated so that their potential can be of optimal benefit, to promote the best use of existing adjuvant technologies, and to encourage and support the development of novel adjuvants and vaccines. Currently organizations from 28 countries joined ENOVA.


1. Targeted microbeads for attraction and induction of specific innate immune response in the tumor microenvironment
Cancer immunotherapy is aimed at eliminating tumors by using components of the immune system. However, a major drawback is the presence of molecules and cells (e.g. tumor-associated macrophages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells) of the immune system in the tumor microenvironment that contribute to the tumor's development and the suppression of activated immune cells. The aim of the research is to use micro-particles that carry anti-tumor antibodies (e.g. anti-HER2) and an inducer of the innate immune cells (e.g. TLR7 ligand) to target the tumor microenvironment and to revert the activity of the innate immune cells from pro- into a desired anti-tumor response.

2. Oncolytic viruses for cancer treatment
The use of viruses that attack specifically tumor cells (oncolytic viruses) has gain achievements at the last decades. However, a major obstacle in this approach as a treatment of cancer is in the immune response raised against the viruses, which limit the period of treatment. In our laboratory new oncolytic viruses were discovered which can overcome the anti-viral immune response, enabling continuous treatment of cancer.

3. Development of veterinary viral vaccines
The major solution for viral diseases is preventive vaccines. Poultry viruses' antigenicity is frequently changed and as a result the vaccine lost its activity and new vaccines to the same pathogens should be produced. In our laboratory three avian viruses, Newcastle disease virus, Infectious bronchitis, avian reovirus and avian influenza are studied. The variation in RNA sequences and its influence on the efficacy of the vaccines is studied with the intention to develop broad spectrum vaccines.

4. Development of non-antibiotic therapy for mastitis
Clinical mastitis is mostly caused by Escherichia coli, Streptococcus dysgalactiae and staphylococci bacteria and is usually treated with antibiotics. Although effective, this treatment has several disadvantages. The aim of this study was to develop an immunologically based treatment (Y-complex) for mastitis. In controlled and field studies, Y-complex was as effective as antibiotics in eliminating bacteria, but significantly less milk was discarded from cows treated with Y-complex as compared to antibiotics. Y-complex was proven to be safe and effective, and may serve as a new approach for the treatment of mastitis.

5. Passive vaccination as a treatment for antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Passive vaccination may be a solution for the treatment of a wide range of diseases caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, one of this strategy's limitations is the source of the antibodies (Abs), which must be human, or humanized. Passive vaccination with Abs extracted from animal serum or chicken egg yolk is inefficient due to Abs antigenicity: the foreign Abs provoke an immune response against themselves, which limits their efficacy and may cause adverse effects, such as potentially fatal anaphylactic shock and serum sickness. It was found in our lab that following injection of Abs coated with mannoseamine-biotin adduct (MBA), immunologic response to such coated Abs was reduced or eliminated, while antigen recognition was preserved. The aim of this study is to produce Abs in chicken against MRSA in order to test, in vitro and in vivo, the feasibility and safety of passive vaccination as a treatment for infectious diseases. In a current research the mechanisms by which a novel masking molecule, MBA, contributes to the reduction in immune response toward the coated protein is studied.

Selected Publications

Targeted microbeads for attraction and induction of specific innate immune response in the tumor microenvironment

Vaccine 2010 Volume 28 Issue 45 Pages 7279-7287 E. Shahar; R. Gorodetsky; E. Gaberman; E. Aizenshtein; J. Pitcovski Read online

Mannosamine-biotin as a novel masking agent for coating IgG for immune response silencing and augmentation of antibody-antigen interaction

Vaccine 2009 Volume 27 Issue 49 Pages 6869-6876 J. Vaya; E. Aizenshtein; S. Khatib; T. Gefen; M. Fassler; R. Musa; S. Krispel; J. Pitcovski Read online

Capture of tumor cell membranes by trogocytosis facilitates detection and isolation of tumor-specific functional CTLs

Cancer Research 2008 Volume 68 Issue 6 Pages 2006-2013 A. Machlenkin; R. Uzana; S. Frankenburg; G. Eisenberg; L. Eisenbach; J. Pitcovski; R. Gorodetsky; A. Nissan; T. Peretz; M. Lotem Read online

Development and large-scale use of recombinant VP2 vaccine for the prevention of infectious bursal disease of chickens

Vaccine 2003 Volume 21 Issue 32 Pages 4736-4743 J. Pitcovski; B. Gutter; G. Gallili; M. Goldway; B. Perelman; G. Gross; S. Krispel; M. Barbakov; A. Michael Read online

The complete DNA sequence and genome organization of the avian adenovirus, hemorrhagic enteritis virus

Virology 1998 Volume 249 Issue 2 Pages 307-315 J. Pitcovski; M. Mualem; Z. Rei-Koren; S. Krispel; E. Shmueli; Y. Peretz; B. Gutter; G. E. Gallili; A. Michael; D. Goldberg Read online


Post-graduate and post-doctoral research training


Laboratories and research projects


Business opportunities and technology transfer