Adjuvants are molecules that are used to augment the effect of a vaccine by stimulating the immune response of an individual. It accomplishes this task by mimicking specific sets of evolutionarily conserved molecules like lipopolysaccharides (LPS), endocytosed nucleic acid, etc. They have molecular immunostimulatory actions by acting as a ligand to various receptors.
These include toll-like receptor (TLRs), NOD-like receptor, helicases, and C-type lectin receptors. An HIV vaccine has been spoken about for three decades, yet there is no licensed vaccine till now. Major efforts are targeted in improving the efficacy of the vaccine by the use of adjuvants.
The study and findings
Scientists from Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory Vaccine Center (EVC) have found that a new adjuvant called 3M-052, can help in extending the protective role of immunity against HIV. It functions by attaching to a specific receptor (TLR7/8), thereby inducing a vaccine-specific bone marrow plasma cell (BM-LLPCs). They have taken 90 rhesus monkeys for their study and it shows that the BM-LLPCs levels are maintained at high numbers for more than one year after vaccination. This result can bring an idea about the efficacy of the vaccine to an individual and also helps in monitoring pre-clinical effectiveness.
Rafi Ahmed, Director of EVC, said that the key to a successful vaccine is the durability of an immune response. Though there is a quick first-line defense against any pathogen, the sustainability of the immune response is must vital for survival. So, boosting the immune system by adjuvants produces long-lived plasma cells that are of immense use in tackling HIV, influenza, and currently COVID-19.
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