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Expert Rev Vaccines. 2003 Apr;2(2):327-35.

Vaccine adjuvant technology: from mechanistic concepts to practical applications.

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  • 1Department of Vaccine Technology and Immunology R&D, Boxmeer, The Netherlands.


Distinct types of immune responses are required for efficient elimination of different pathogens. Programming of the desired type of immune response by safe nonreplicating vaccines requires suitable vaccine adjuvants. Adjuvants largely determine the magnitude and quality of immune responses specific for the coadministered antigen. Unfortunately, rational vaccine design requiring a rational choice of vaccine adjuvant, is hampered by a lack of knowledge about the mechanism(s) of vaccine adjuvant activity. The current review addresses different critical immunological processes possibly explaining adjuvant functions. In addition, we discuss traditional vaccine adjuvant formulations and their possible mode of action. Finally, we reflect on the latest technologies for the identification of novel adjuvants using molecular analysis of immune activation and functional genomics.

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