The S. japonicum-Based pGEX Vector: Commercial Outcomes from Analysis of Model Host-Parasite Relationships in a “North-South” Collaboration

Graham F. Mitchell*, 1, Kathy M. Davern 2, Wilfred U. Tiu 3
1 Principal, Foursight Associates Pty Ltd and Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
2 Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Perth, Australia
3 Professorial Lecturer, College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila, Philippines

© 2008 F. Mitchellet al;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Principal, Foursight Associates Pty Ltd, Melbourne Australia; E-mail:


As judged by widespread utility in protein production from recombinant Escherichia coli and by the magnitude of royalty payments to Melbourne’s Walter & Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), the expression vector pGEX, invented by Dr Donald Smith, has been a significant commercial success. It is based on the 26kDa glutathione S-transferase of Schisto-soma japonicum(Philippines) termed Sj26GST, that emerged from work throughout the 1980’s on resistance to infection in a peculiar mouse strain, WEHI 129/J. Sj26GST was the lead vaccine candidate for this human helminth worm being pursued in a long-term collaboration between WEHI in Australia and Dr Edito Garcia’s1group at the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines in Manila that commenced in 1980.

The product, pGEX, is an excellent example of commercial spin-off from basic research in mouse model systems that indeed evolved into an applied research program but with a very different goal, namely rational molecular vaccine development.