• Immune modulators with defined molecular targets: cornerstone to optimize rational vaccine design.

      Ebensen, Thomas; Guzmán, Carlos A; Department of Vaccinology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-03-02)
      Vaccination remains the most valuable tool for preventing infectious diseases. However, the performance of many existing vaccines should be improved and there are diseases for which vaccines are still not available. The use of well-defined antigens for the generation of subunit vaccines has led to products with an improved safety profile. However, purified antigens are usually poorly immunogenic, making essential the use of adjuvants. Despite the fact that adjuvants have been used to increase the immunogenicity of vaccines for more than 70 years, only a handful has been licensed for human use (e.g., aluminium salts, the micro-fluidized squalene-in-water emulsion MF59 and monophosphoryl lipid A). Thus, the development of new adjuvants which are able to promote broad and sustained immune responses at systemic and mucosal levels still remains as a major challenge in vaccinology. Recent advances in our understanding of the immune system have facilitated the identification of new biological targets for screening programs aimed at the discovery of novel immune stimulators. This resulted in the identification of new candidate adjuvants, which made possible the modulation of the immune responses elicited according to specific needs. A number of promising adjuvants which are currently under preclinical or clinical development will be described in this review.