The understanding that it was not only proteins, but also carbohydrates that were being recognized by cells led researchers to design a vaccine that yielded many carbohydrate particles when processed by the immune systemin turn creating a vaccine that generated a stronger immune response. Researchers believe that the more effective vaccine prototype they designed may one day assist in protecting high-risk populations susceptible of disease.
"For example, pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are good in children, but are not effective in protecting the elderly," explained Kasper. So we are hopeful that by designing vaccines like this, you'll make better vaccines that will be effective in all the at-risk populations."
Fikri Avci, PhD, lead study author and instructor in the Department of Medicine at BWH and Harvard Medical School adds that the findings on how the body's immune cells interact with carbohydrates will also lead to more effective vaccines in the future.
"Carbohydrates are among the most abundant and structurally diverse molecules in nature," said Avci. "They are extremely important in many biological functions. A better understanding of carbohydrate interaction is crucial. We are hoping that our findings will provide a framework for production of new-generation therapeutics and preventive medicines not only against bacterial infections, but also for cancer and viral diseases."
|Contact: Marjorie Montemayor-Quellenberg|
Brigham and Women's Hospital