Live-attenuated vaccines contain a wide variety of immune agonists and can provide durable protection, sometimes following a single immunization. Subunit antigen vaccines, however, generally lack immune stimulators and require the addition of exogenous adjuvants to induce protective immunity. A deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying synergistic enhancement by combinations of adjuvants could recapitulate the immune stimulating properties of live-attenuated vaccines in a rational and controlled way. The goals of the Molecular Mechanisms of Combination Adjuvants (MMCA) program are to promote the investigation of new adjuvant combinations, and to understand the mechanisms by which combination adjuvants improve vaccines. NIAID uses the U01 (cooperative agreement) grant mechanism for this program.
Data generated from supported studies are made publicly available through the Vaccine Adjuvant Compendium (VAC), enabling the rational selection of adjuvants and the future development of more effective vaccines against infectious diseases, and/or new vaccines to treat allergic or autoimmune diseases.
Main Areas of Focus
The program supports studies of combination adjuvants that
- Target multiple innate and adaptive immune pathways
- Examine the mechanisms associated with differences in responses to live attenuated vs. adjuvanted vaccines
- Determine the effects of formulation
- Characterize induction of tissue-specific immunity at different ages
Methods include traditional immunological as well as limited systems approaches to understand and predict ideal combinations.