Dr. Lenny Moise, Director of Vaccine Research
EpiVax, Inc., Providence, RI, United States
Talk Title: Immunome-Derived Vaccines: The next wave in vaccine design
March 26th, 2014 @ 12:20
VIEWPOINT: Incorporating informatics and genomics
How can informatics and genomics improve vaccine design?
Informatics and genomics are means of designing vaccines in a rational way to carefully select the antigens that are built into a vaccine, to define the minimal essential information needed to generate protective immunity. It is not the time-honored ‘isolate, inactivate and inject’ approach. Informatics and genomics are the basis of reverse vaccinology. We’re thinking more about what a vaccine should contain. We have the tools – informatics and genomics, as well as new knowledge of immunology and ‘omics technologies such as, proteomics and transcriptomics, that provide additional information to rationally select antigens.
What’s the need for reverse vaccinology?
For many pathogens that have no licensed vaccines today, inactivated or live-attenuated
vaccines may have too much information; we don’t know exactly what is in them and that
may explain why these strategies have not progressed. In a sense, we have a smarter way
of producing a vaccine by tearing down the pathogen and then rebuilding it in a form that
will get across what is essential to generating protective immunity. Reverse vaccinology is
not about what we take out of a pathogen to create a vaccine; it’s what we build from the
ground up – critical antigens identified using computational and experimental techniques
and best-in-class delivery vehicles and adjuvants. Reverse vaccinology also affords the opportunity to think about how antigens may crossreact with sequences that are homologous to commensal or pathogens that a person has been exposed to in the past. We now have computational tools available to consider and predict potential cross-reactivities which could lead to muted, or worse yet detrimental, immune responses. With the ability to more carefully select antigens for vaccines by taking potential cross-reactivities into account, it’s now possible to focus in on pathogen-specific sequences like never before.
Prediction for the next 12 months:
I think that the importance of the human microbiome is going to emerge as an important
factor in vaccine design as well as vaccine testing. Different populations respond differently
to the same vaccine, and it is now thought that the microbiome is one of the factors that
can influence that. Genetics, socioeconomic conditions, nutritional status, and a number
of other factors can contribute to it, but I think that a greater awareness of the importance
of the microbiome on human immune development and homeostasis will lead vaccine
developers to consider its impact on how humans respond to vaccines.
The trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine this season.