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An Antigenic Thrift-Based Approach to Influenza Vaccine Design

by 1,2,†, 1,2,3,†, 1,4,5, 1,4, 6,7 and 1,2,*
Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, Oxford OX1 3SY, UK
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3SZ, UK
Department of Philosophy, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 0DJ, UK
Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7BN, UK
Translational Research in GastroIntestinal Disorders, University Hospitals Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel
Porter School of Environment and Earth Sciences, Faculty of Exact Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Contributed equally.
Academic Editor: Chevalier Christophe
Vaccines 2021, 9(6), 657;
Received: 16 April 2021 / Revised: 4 June 2021 / Accepted: 5 June 2021 / Published: 16 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Immune Responses to Influenza Virus Antigens)
The antigenic drift theory states that influenza evolves via the gradual accumulation of mutations, decreasing a host’s immune protection against previous strains. Influenza vaccines are designed accordingly, under the premise of antigenic drift. However, a paradox exists at the centre of influenza research. If influenza evolved primarily through mutation in multiple epitopes, multiple influenza strains should co-circulate. Such a multitude of strains would render influenza vaccines quickly inefficacious. Instead, a single or limited number of strains dominate circulation each influenza season. Unless additional constraints are placed on the evolution of influenza, antigenic drift does not adequately explain these observations. Here, we explore the constraints placed on antigenic drift and a competing theory of influenza evolution – antigenic thrift. In contrast to antigenic drift, antigenic thrift states that immune selection targets epitopes of limited variability, which constrain the variability of the virus. We explain the implications of antigenic drift and antigenic thrift and explore their current and potential uses in the context of influenza vaccine design. View Full-Text
Keywords: vaccine; vaccination; influenza; evolutionary theory; antigenic drift; antigenic thrift vaccine; vaccination; influenza; evolutionary theory; antigenic drift; antigenic thrift
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bolton, J.S.; Klim, H.; Wellens, J.; Edmans, M.; Obolski, U.; Thompson, C.P. An Antigenic Thrift-Based Approach to Influenza Vaccine Design. Vaccines 2021, 9, 657.

AMA Style

Bolton JS, Klim H, Wellens J, Edmans M, Obolski U, Thompson CP. An Antigenic Thrift-Based Approach to Influenza Vaccine Design. Vaccines. 2021; 9(6):657.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bolton, Jai S., Hannah Klim, Judith Wellens, Matthew Edmans, Uri Obolski, and Craig P. Thompson 2021. "An Antigenic Thrift-Based Approach to Influenza Vaccine Design" Vaccines 9, no. 6: 657.

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