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Review
, 28 Suppl 3, C25-36

Unmet Needs in Modern Vaccinology: Adjuvants to Improve the Immune Response

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Review

Unmet Needs in Modern Vaccinology: Adjuvants to Improve the Immune Response

Geert Leroux-Roels. Vaccine.

Abstract

The key objective of vaccination is the induction of an effective pathogen-specific immune response that leads to protection against infection and/or disease caused by that pathogen, and that may ultimately result in its eradication from humanity. The concept that the immune response to pathogen antigens can be improved by the addition of certain compounds into the vaccine formulation was demonstrated about one hundred years ago when aluminium salts were introduced. New vaccine technology has led to vaccines containing highly purified antigens with improved tolerability and safety profiles, but the immune response they induce is suboptimal without the help of adjuvants. In parallel, the development of effective vaccines has been facing more and more important challenges linked to complicated pathogens (e.g. malaria, TB, HIV, etc.) and/or to subjects with conditions that jeopardize the induction or persistence of a protective immune response. A greater understanding of innate and adaptive immunity and their close interaction at the molecular level is yielding insights into the possibility of selectively stimulating immunological pathways to obtain the desired immune response. The better understanding of the mechanism of 'immunogenicity' and 'adjuvanticity' has prompted the research of new vaccine design based on new technologies, such as naked DNA or live vector vaccines and the new adjuvant approaches. Adjuvants can be used to enhance the magnitude and affect the type of the antigen-specific immune response, and the combination of antigens with more than one adjuvant, the so called adjuvant system approach, has been shown to allow the development of vaccines with the ability to generate effective immune responses adapted to both the pathogen and the target population. This review focuses on the adjuvants and adjuvant systems currently in use in vaccines, future applications, and the remaining challenges the field is facing.

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