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, 7 (12), e1002344

Vaccinomics and Personalized Vaccinology: Is Science Leading Us Toward a New Path of Directed Vaccine Development and Discovery?


Vaccinomics and Personalized Vaccinology: Is Science Leading Us Toward a New Path of Directed Vaccine Development and Discovery?

Gregory A Poland et al. PLoS Pathog.


As is apparent in many fields of science and medicine, the new biology, and particularly new high-throughput genetic sequencing and transcriptomic and epigenetic technologies, are radically altering our understanding and views of science. In this article, we make the case that while mostly ignored thus far in the vaccine field, these changes will revolutionize vaccinology from development to manufacture to administration. Such advances will address a current major barrier in vaccinology-that of empiric vaccine discovery and development, and the subsequent low yield of viable vaccine candidates, particularly for hyper-variable viruses. While our laboratory's data and thinking (and hence also for this paper) has been directed toward viruses and viral vaccines, generalization to other pathogens and disease entities (i.e., anti-cancer vaccines) may be appropriate.

Conflict of interest statement

Dr. Poland and Dr. Ovsyannikova hold patents for the discovery of novel measles and vaccinia peptides potentially useful in developing new diagnostic assays and vaccines. Dr. Poland provides consultative advice to a number of vaccine companies for novel vaccine development (Novartis, PAXVAX, Emergent, Dynavax, Merck, Avianax, Theraclone, Liquidia, EMD Serano), and serves on a DMSB for Merck for clinical trials of novel vaccines in development. Dr. Kennedy has no competing interests.


Figure 1
Figure 1. New approach to vaccine discovery and development.
Figure 1 illustrates the differences between the one-size-fits-all approach of empiric vaccine development with a more directed and personal approach that relies upon vaccinomics and high-dimensional “omics” technologies. By analogy, empiric vaccine development represents the undifferentiated light entering the prism from the left. Individual aspects of directed vaccine development can be seen when viewed through the prism of vaccinomics. Several examples of these components are illustrated in the rainbow on the right side of the figure. These aspects may or may not be appropriate for all vaccines and are used here to illustrate the wide range of possibilities that a “discover – validate – characterize – deploy” approach allows one to independently investigate, optimize, and fully utilize. Below the vaccinomics prism are listed some examples (by no means complete or definitive) representing a range of potential components that can be assembled into a comprehensive, systems-level examination of infection/vaccination of a given pathogen. Please refer to the text for examples of how different components might be used in the development of specific vaccines.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Distribution of measles vaccine–induced antibody levels.
This graph represents the distribution of antibody levels determined by an EIA assay on healthy grade-school children immunized with a single dose of MMR-II vaccine. The inter-individual variation in antibody levels among this healthy cohort illustrates the importance of determining the mechanisms for heterogeneity in vaccine response.

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