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Adjuvants

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Adjuvants have been incorporated into killed vaccines for many decades. Unfortunately, until recently, only one adjuvant (alum) was licensed for use in human vaccines, eventhough many others have shown to be very efficacious in animal vaccines. With the understanding of the relationship between innate ...

Adjuvants have been incorporated into killed vaccines for many decades. Unfortunately, until recently, only one adjuvant (alum) was licensed for use in human vaccines, eventhough many others have shown to be very efficacious in animal vaccines. With the understanding of the relationship between innate immunity and adaptive immunity, a myriad of new adjuvants have been tested in animal species and some have even entered the commercial arena for humans. Furthermore, regulatory agencies have also become more receptive to licensing adjuvant combinations. This is a major breakthrough in vaccine research since it opens a whole new vista for enhancing vaccine efficacy.

These new adjuvants, not only increase the kinetics of immune responses but also modulate the quality of the immune response. Furthermore, these adjuvant combinations can address challenges in specific populations which respond differently from healthy adults (neonates, elderly, etc). Adjuvants can also reduce the quantity of antigen required, this is critical in specific vaccines where supply of antigen may be limited – i.e. H1N1 influenza vaccine or expensive sub-unit vaccines, by “antigen sparing” with no diminuation of immune responses. Finally, these new formulations can be used for delivery of vaccines through mucosal surfaces thereby removing the need for needles. This is a double barrelled advantage, which reduces the trauma of needle injection as well as overcoming the challenge of needles in developing countries, where cost can be a significant burden.

The current series of manuscripts or reviews address the recent advances made in identifying the mechanisms of action of various immune stimulators (adjuvants), the characteristics of good adjuvants, the safety, regulatory issues and opportunities as well as challenges vaccinologists face in optimizing vaccine development and efficacy.


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