A challenging component of vaccine development is the large serologic diversity of protective antigens. Remarkably, there is a conserved surface/capsular polysaccharide, one of the most effective vaccine targets, expressed by a large number of bacterial, fungal and eukaryotic pathogens: poly-N-acetyl glucosamine (PNAG). Natural antibodies to PNAG are poorly effective at mediating in vitro microbial killing or in vivo protection. Removing most of the acetate substituents to produce a deacetylated glycoform, or using synthetic oligosaccharides of poly-β-1-6-linked glucosamine conjugated to carrier proteins, results in vaccines that elicit high levels of broad-based immunity. A fully human monoclonal antibody is highly active in laboratory and preclinical studies and has been successfully tested in a phase-I setting. Both the synthetic oligosaccharide conjugate vaccine and MAb will be further tested in humans starting in 2016; but, even if effective against only a fraction of the PNAG-producing pathogens, a major advance in vaccine-preventable diseases will occur.
Keywords: Ply-N-acetyl glucosamine; antibiotic-resistance; capsule; conjugate vaccine; monoclonal antibody.