Abstract: Influenza viruses have a huge impact on public health. Current influenza vaccines need to be updated annually and protect poorly against antigenic drift variants or novel emerging subtypes. Vaccination against influenza can be improved in two important ways, either by inducing more broadly protective immune responses or by decreasing the time of vaccine production, which is relevant especially during a pandemic outbreak. In this review, we outline the current efforts to develop so-called “universal influenza vaccines”, describing antigens that may induce broadly protective immunity and novel vaccine production platforms that facilitate timely availability of vaccines.
Abstract: The skin is an attractive organ for immunization because of the presence of antigen-presenting cells. Intradermal delivery via tattooing has demonstrated superior vaccine immunogenicity of DNA vaccines in comparison to conventional delivery methods. In this study, we explored the efficacy of tattoo injection of a tumor vaccine based on recombinant Semliki Forest virus replicon particles (rSFV) targeting human papillomavirus (HPV). Tattoo injection of rSFV particles resulted in antigen expression in both the skin and draining lymph nodes. In comparison with intramuscular injection, the overall antigen expression determined at the site of administration and draining lymph nodes was 10-fold lower upon tattoo injection. Delivery of SFV particles encoding the E6 and E7 antigens of human papillomavirus type 16 (SFVeE6,7) via tattooing resulted in HPV-specific cytotoxic T cells and in vivo therapeutic antitumor response. Strikingly, despite the observed lower overall transgene expression, SFVeE6,7 delivered via tattoo injection resulted in higher or equal levels of immune responses as compared to intramuscular injection. The intrinsic immunogenic potential of tattooing provides a benefit for immunotherapy based on an alphavirus.
Abstract: Tumor vaccine design requires prediction and validation of immunogenic MHC class I epitopes expressed by target cells as well as MHC class II epitopes expressed by antigen-presenting cells essential for the induction of optimal immune responses. Epitope prediction methods are based on different algorithms and are instrumental for a first screening of possible epitopes. However, their results do not reflect a one-to-one correlation with experimental data. We combined several in silico prediction methods to unravel the most promising C57BL/6 mouse-restricted Hepatitis C virus (HCV) MHC class I epitopes and validated these epitopes in vitro and in vivo. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes within the HCV non-structural proteins were identified, and proteasomal cleavage sites and helper T cell (Th) epitopes at close proximity to these CTL epitopes were analyzed using multiple prediction algorithms. This combined in silico analysis enhances the precision of identification of functional HCV-specific CTL epitopes. This approach will be applicable to the design of human vaccines not only for HCV, but also for other antigens in which T-cell responses play a crucial role.
Abstract: Gene-based vaccines as typified by plasmid DNA vaccines and recombinant viral-vectored vaccines are expected as promising solutions against infectious diseases for which no effective prophylactic vaccines exist such as HIV, dengue virus, Ebola virus and malaria, and for which more improved vaccines are needed such as tuberculosis and influenza virus. Although many preclinical and clinical trials have been conducted to date, no DNA vaccines or recombinant viral-vectored vaccines expressing heterologous antigens for human use have yet been licensed in the U.S., Europe or Japan. In this research, we describe the current regulatory context for gene-based prophylactic vaccines against infectious disease in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. We identify the important considerations, in particular, on the preclinical assessments that would allow these vaccines to proceed to clinical trials, and the differences on the regulatory pathway for the marketing authorization in each region.
Abstract: In the last 20 years, novel non-seasonal influenza viruses have emerged, most of which have originated from birds. Despite their apparent inability to cause pandemics, with the exception of H1N1 swine influenza virus, these viruses still constitute a constant threat to public health. While general concern has decreased after the peak of the H5N1 virus, in recent years several novel reassorted influenza viruses (e.g., H7N9, H9N2, H10N8) have jumped the host-species barrier and are under surveillance by the scientific community and public health systems. It is still unclear whether these viruses can actually cause pandemics or just isolated episodes. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of old and novel potential pandemic strains of recent decades.
Abstract: The existence of pathogens that escape recognition by specific vaccines, the need to improve existing vaccines and the increased availability of therapeutic (non-infectious disease) vaccines necessitate the rational development of novel vaccine concepts based on the induction of protective cell-mediated immune responses. For naive T-cell activation, several signals resulting from innate and adaptive interactions need to be integrated, and adjuvants may interfere with some or all of these signals. Adjuvants, for example, are used to promote the immunogenicity of antigens in vaccines, by inducing a pro-inflammatory environment that enables the recruitment and promotion of the infiltration of phagocytic cells, particularly antigen-presenting cells (APC), to the injection site. Adjuvants can enhance antigen presentation, induce cytokine expression, activate APC and modulate more downstream adaptive immune reactions (vaccine delivery systems, facilitating immune Signal 1). In addition, adjuvants can act as immunopotentiators (facilitating Signals 2 and 3) exhibiting immune stimulatory effects during antigen presentation by inducing the expression of co-stimulatory molecules on APC. Together, these signals determine the strength of activation of specific T-cells, thereby also influencing the quality of the downstream T helper cytokine profiles and the differentiation of antigen-specific T helper populations (Signal 3). New adjuvants should also target specific (innate) immune cells in order to facilitate proper activation of downstream adaptive immune responses and homing (Signal 4). It is desirable that these adjuvants should be able to exert such responses in the context of mucosal administered vaccines. This review focuses on the understanding of the potential working mechanisms of the most well-known classes of adjuvants to be used effectively in vaccines.