Research Topic

Current Challenges in Vaccinology

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Vaccines represent one of the greatest public health achievements and are one of the most effective tools of modern preventative medicine. The development of effective vaccines and of respective global immunization programs has led to a significant decline in the incidence of severe and potentially lethal ...

Vaccines represent one of the greatest public health achievements and are one of the most effective tools of modern preventative medicine. The development of effective vaccines and of respective global immunization programs has led to a significant decline in the incidence of severe and potentially lethal infections and related deaths. It has also led to the eradication / near eradication of once lethal infectious diseases, such as smallpox and polio. Consequently, vaccination – through the control of infectious diseases – has contributed to a striking increase in life expectancy in many countries worldwide.

However, we still face several important challenges towards developing more efficacious vaccines for many diseases and for different populations. For example, optimal protection of the human population in early life (e.g. neonates) and in the elderly remains a major challenge. The reasons why the immune system is less efficient in mounting vaccine-induced responses at extreme ages remain poorly understood and whether adjuvants may represent a potential solution remains to be explored. In addition, nowadays, we face an increasing anti-vaccine movement and we are observing vaccination fatigue in many industrialized countries. As a result, many vaccine-preventable diseases are re-emerging, perpetuated by a currently insufficient global vaccine coverage and reduced herd protection. This is reflected by the emergence of outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as Measles, that were once tightly controlled. Insufficient herd immunity becomes a significant risk for children, the elderly and for immune-compromised individuals, such as transplant recipients, and those suffering from immunodeficiencies; chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. The public health challenges related to vaccination have been worsened due to demographic changes, such as: (i) the increased frequency of aging populations; (ii) alterations in nutritional status (malnourished versus obese populations); (iii) increased human migration and genetic diversity and (iv) the increasing use of immunosuppressive drugs for the treatment of chronic diseases.

To improve protection across all individuals in our increasingly complex society, new concepts and strategies in vaccinology are shifting focus towards developing stratified / personalization vaccination programs that include: (i) modified vaccine schedules; (ii) alterations in vaccine dosage; (iii) different routes of vaccine administration and (iv) the use of new adjuvants. For example, the use of adjuvanted influenza has been shown to induce more efficacious immune responses in the elderly and in patients with chronic illnesses. In line with the increased need for large-scale and reliable data on vaccine responsiveness in relevant patient populations, the use of omics-based technologies (e.g. vaccinomics and transcriptomics) in the vaccinology field is on the rise. The application of these technologies will be highly beneficial for analyzing the efficacy and use of stratified or personalized vaccination strategies in different risk populations, using both established and novel vaccines.

In this Research Topic, we aim to address the major challenges faced by vaccinology today, covering both well-established and new vaccines against emerging and re-emerging diseases. We welcome the submission of Original Research, Reviews, Mini-Reviews and Perspective articles that cover the following topics:

(1) Vaccination and public health:

a. Challenges in vaccinology: from host and pathogen to systems vaccinology.
b. Challenges in vaccinology in developing countries.
c. Effects of migration on vaccine preventable infectious diseases.
d. Communication with the public: how to conquer vaccine fatigue?

(2) Demographic changes and vaccines:

a. Vaccine responses in pediatric patients, with a particular focus on neonates and premature infants.
b. Influence of maternal vaccine-based immunity on pediatric immune responses.
c. Vaccination efficacy and herd immunity.
d. Nutritional status and vaccination efficacy.
e. Vaccination in immuno-compromised patients (e.g. bone marrow transplant recipients; patients with primary immunodeficiencies; patients with chronic inflammatory diseases and patients on immunosuppression treatmen)t.

(3) Challenges in vaccines against emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases:

a. Influenza vaccines: one vaccine for all or influenza vaccines for certain age and risk groups?
b. Pneumococcal vaccines: serotype replacement and the development of new vaccines.
c. Malaria vaccines: measuring success rates and determining personalized / stratified approaches for vaccination programs.
d. ZIKA/Chikungunya vaccines.
e. Dengue vaccines.
f. TB vaccines: new developments.

(4) Challenges towards developing vaccines for infectious and non-infectious cancers:

a. Peptide cell based vaccines against cancer.
b. Prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines against cancer.

We acknowledge the initiation and support of this Research Topic by the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS).


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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