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NIH awards 6 grants to explore how combination adjuvants improve vaccines

April 04, 2016

WHAT:

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded six grants totaling $3.1 million to researchers exploring the molecular mechanisms behind combination vaccine adjuvants-- substances that improve the effectiveness of vaccines. The initiative will lay a foundation for vaccine developers to improve current vaccines, design vaccines for new and emerging infectious diseases and expedite vaccine research for diseases currently without preventative inoculations, like HIV and tuberculosis.

Adjuvants improve the effectiveness of many vaccines. These agents can accelerate and enhance the immune response elicited by antigens, the active components of vaccines, especially in populations with weak immune systems, such as children and the elderly. Adjuvants can also allow developers to use less antigen, which can be costly or in short supply, and create more enduring immune responses in individuals, eliminating the need for booster vaccinations. However, very little is understood about the molecular mechanisms of how individual adjuvants provide these benefits, or how they might work in combination to boost vaccine effectiveness.

The NIAID-led Molecular Mechanisms of Combination Adjuvants research program funds projects designed to shed light on how adjuvants work in combination. These adjuvants may be either in current clinical use or in development. Investigators will study which adjuvants work best together and why, how combinations of adjuvants interact with the immune system, and how synergies between adjuvants can be optimized. The research addresses goals set out in the NIAID Strategic Plan for Research on Vaccine Adjuvants, which prioritizes gaining basic scientific knowledge of adjuvant mechanisms of action in order to improve vaccine research.

The following institutions received the new grants:
  • Children's Hospital Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts. Ofer Levy, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator
  • Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. James B. McLachlan, Ph.D., principal investigator
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia. Krishnendu Roy, Ph.D., principal investigator
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison. Marulasiddappa Suresh, D.V.M, Ph.D., principal investigator
  • University of California, Irvine. Aaron Palmer Esser-Kahn, Ph.D., principal investigator
  • Jackson Laboratory, Farmington, Connecticut. Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D., principal investigator

WHO:

Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation, is available to comment on the Molecular Mechanisms of Combination Adjuvants (MMCA) research program.
-end-
CONTACT:

To schedule interviews, please contact Judith Lavelle, (301) 402-1663, judith.lavelle@nih.gov.

NIAID conducts and supports research--at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide--to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov/.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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