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Researchers Identify New Generic Vaccine Adjuvants

January 11, 2011
MHRP scientists identified three effective and non-proprietary adjuvants that proved safe and more potent than a widely used adjuvant in commercial vaccines.

MHRP scientists have identified three highly effective, non-proprietary and easily manufactured adjuvants that proved safe and more potent than a widely used adjuvant in commercial vaccines for inducing antibodies to anthrax protective antigen. Adjuvants are vaccine components designed to stimulate the immune system, therefore enhancing the body’s ability to protect against diseases. The study, published in the journal Vaccine, could have important implications for the production of vaccines to infrequent, neglected or poverty-related diseases including HIV, malaria and anthrax.

The lead investigator, Dr. Mangala Rao, noted that “this study provides a distinctive alternative to aluminum salt adjuvant that is used in current vaccines, and this could lead to a potent new generation anthrax vaccine for producing higher levels of antibodies with fewer side effects.” The researchers hypothesize that these formulations may also prove useful in the development of vaccines to important poverty-related diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis.

Currently, few adjuvants are easily accessible to vaccine developers in generic form. Aluminum salt, a commonly used generic adjuvant, is accessible, inexpensive and proven safe; however, it can be weak and is often associated with side effects.

For the study, researchers compared seven generic adjuvant formulations. All adjuvants tested were found to provide protection against anthrax, the disease target that the researchers selected as the model. However, when liposomes containing monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA) were simply mixed with the anthrax antigen, researchers found that the combination induced three to five times more toxin neutralizing antibodies without any side effects. The optimal formulation therefore is easily manufactured and works by simple mixing of the adjuvant with the antigen.