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Study reveals current multi-component vaccines may need reworking
Date:5/7/2009

, many modern vaccines introduce detoxified versions of disease-related molecules to the immune system, which remembers them for next time. Once researchers confirm the kind of immune response needed to achieve protection, they can choose for inclusion in a multi-component vaccine the key peptides that trigger the strongest immune response. The immune system reacts, not to the presence of a whole bacterium or virus, but instead to key fragments of those pathogens.

Peptide-based vaccines are already used clinically in cancer, and researchers have made progress determining the specific peptides on the surface of bacteria, viruses and tumors that trigger T cell responses. Oftentimes, vaccine designers will seek to determine several peptides that elicit T cell responses and mix them together to assure greater immune protection. The assumption was that mixing components, each known to elicit a strong T cell response, together would make for a stronger vaccine.

Working in Sant's Lab, Jason Weaver conducted experiments that revealed that including several pathogenic peptides, each known cause a T cell response in isolation, may not be additive when injected into the same dendritic cell. In fact, some of the peptides may cancel out the ability of others to cause T cell expansion because of immunodominance.

Vaccine designers in the future may have to inject the several peptides in multi-component vaccines into different regions of the body so that the strong peptides do not cancel out the weak, researchers said. A second solution may be to change cryptic or weak peptide vaccine components into immunodominant ones. Sant and members of her laboratory including Francisco Chaves, Christopher Lazarski and Weaver have already shown that by switching out single amino acid building blocks, the team was able to drastically increase the potency of the T cell response to target peptides, including those that would otherwise fail to achieve a T cell respon
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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