Antigen discovery and development of vaccines against infectious diseases
"I graduated in Biotechnology from ISHT, Lisbon, completed a Masters in Immunology and Immunogenetics from the University of Manchester, a PhD in Pharmacy from the University of Lisbon, and Post-Doctoral studies in Vaccinology at the prestigious Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford, where of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine was invented and developed.
My research work is based in two distinct but complementary areas: 1) fundamental immunology, more specifically on interactions between pathogens and the immune system, and 2) translation of fundamental immunology knowledge into the design and development of vaccines.
The main subject of my research is the discovery of antigens and the development of vaccines against tuberculosis, malaria and other pathogens, using methods of cell and molecular biology. During my post-doctoral work, I published on the identification of peptides presented by MHC-I and MHC-II, using immunopeptidomics (mass spectrometry and bioinformatics). This work resulted in the identification of 3 new candidate antigens for vaccines against tuberculosis.
Combining fundamental and applied immunology, my group aims to contribute to the development of innovative medical interventions of great relevance and impact for humanity."
P.J.G. Bettencourt. The 100th anniversary of bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and the latest vaccines against COVID-19. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2021 Aug 1;25(8):611-613. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.21.0372 (2021).
P. Bettencourt, J. Müller, A. Nicastri, D. Cantillon, M. Madhavan, P. D. Charles, C. B. Fotso, R. Wittenberg, N. Bull, N. Pinpathomrat, S. J. Waddell, E. Stylianou, A. V. S. Hill, N. Ternette, H. McShane. Identification of antigens presented by MHC for vaccines against tuberculosis. NPJ Vaccines 5, 2 (2020).
P. Bettencourt. Current challenges in the identification of pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine candidate antigens. Frontiers in Immunology 11:190. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.00190 (2020).
E. McNeill, E. Stylianou, M. J. Crabtree, R. Harrington-Kandt, A.-L. Kolb, M. Diotallevi, A. B. Hale, P. Bettencourt, R. Tanner, M. K. O’Shea, M. Matsumiya, H. Lockstone, J. Müller, H. A. Fletcher, D. R. Greaves, H. McShane & K. M. Channon. Regulation of mycobacterial infection by macrophage Gch1 and tetrahydrobiopterin. Nature Communications 9 (1): 5409 (2018).
P. Bettencourt, D. Pires and E. Anes. Immunomodulating microRNAs of mycobacterial infections. Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2016;97:1-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tube.2015.12.004 (2016).
P. Bettencourt, S. Marion, D. Pires, L. F. Santos, C. Lastrucci, N. Carmo, J. Blake, V. Benes, G. Griffiths, O. Neyrolles, G. Lugo-Villarino and E. Anes. Actin-binding protein regulation by microRNAs as a novel microbial strategy to modulate phagocytosis by host cells: the case of N-Wasp and miR-142-3p. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 3:19. doi:10.3389/ fcimb.2013.00019 (2013).
B. Sönnichsen, L. B. Koski, A. Walsh, P. Marschall, B. Neumann, M. Brehm, A.-M. Allaume, J. Artelt, P. Bettencourt, E. Cassin, M. Hewitson, C. Holz, M. Khan, S. Lazik, C. Martin, B. Nitzsche, M. Ruer, J. Stamford, M. Winzi, R. Heinkel, M. Röder, J. Finell, H. Häntsch, S. J. M. Jones, M. Jones, F. Piano, K. C. Gunsalus, K. Oegemma, P. Gönczy, A. Coulson, A. A. Hyman & C. J. Echeverri. Full-genome RNAi profiling of early embryogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature 434, 462 - 469 (2005).