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An adjuvant is a substance that is formulated as part of a vaccine to enhance its ability to induce protection against infection. Adjuvants help activate the immune system, allowing the antigens— pathogen components that elicit an immune response—in vaccines to stimulate a response that leads to long-term protection.

An effective vaccine stimulates both arms of the immune system: innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity occurs within hours, as immune cells recognize an intruder. Adaptive immunity develops over several days and involves coordination and expansion of specific adaptive immune cells. This leads to immune memory, when cells specific to the pathogen are retained for later use. Vaccines made from weakened or killed pathogens contain naturally occurring adjuvants and can elicit potent protective immune responses. However, most vaccines developed today include small components of microbes, such as proteins, rather than the entire virus or bacterium. These vaccines often must be formulated with adjuvants to generate a strong, long-lasting protective immune response.

Read more about Adjuvants.

Last Updated June 04, 2014