The new frontier in rational vaccine design
Protein engineering revolutionizes several areas


The effectiveness of vaccines depends, among other factors, on their ability to generate a robust and long-lasting immune response in the body. This implies that the vaccine must contain antigens that trigger the production of antibodies and specific immune cells against the pathogenic agent. To this end, among the different existing strategies, it has recently been incorporated the use of protein engineering, which is a scientific discipline that focuses on modifying and designing proteins so that they acquire new functions or specific characteristics. This opens a wide range of possibilities, from creating more efficient enzymes for the biotechnology industry to designing therapeutic proteins to treat diseases, improve drugs and vaccines. The application of protein engineering to generate more potent and broad-based vaccines to treat livestock diseases can help prevent or lessen the economic impact they have in the agricultural sector. One of the most impactful animal diseases in Uruguay and the region is tick infection, which generates annual losses estimated at US$ 50 million for Uruguay alone.


Scaffold Biotech is working on the design and use of protein nanoparticles that can self-assemble into other molecules to generate a new product with tailor-made functions. Rational protein design utilizes bioinformatics platforms and protein analysis software to predict the best protein for a specific application and allows the design to combine parts of proteins (nanoparticles) to improve their overall effectiveness. Thus, a new molecule may contain parts of several proteins that have proven efficiency, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the vaccine. This ability to combine proteins in nanoparticles makes it possible to develop vaccines that are more akin to a problem, which enhances immune responses, is safer, more stable and broad-spectrum, among other characteristics. Scaffold is now working on a vaccine against ticks in Uruguayan cattle, and seeks to generate one that trains the cells and antibodies of the cattle's immune system so that they are able to defend themselves against these parasites. In the future, the start up also plans to apply the technology and knowledge generated to produce vaccines focused on human health.


Agustín Correa – Co-founder
PhD; biochemist (IP Montevideo).
Juan Pablo Tosar foto
Matías Machado – Co-founder
PhD; biophysicist (IP Montevideo).