Perspective | Published:

Recent advances in the molecular design of synthetic vaccines

Nature Chemistry volume 7, pages 952960 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Vaccines have typically been prepared using whole organisms. These are normally either attenuated bacteria or viruses that are live but have been altered to reduce their virulence, or pathogens that have been inactivated and effectively killed through exposure to heat or formaldehyde. However, using whole organisms to elicit an immune response introduces the potential for infections arising from a reversion to a virulent form in live pathogens, unproductive reactions to vaccine components or batch-to-batch variability. Synthetic vaccines, in which a molecular antigen is conjugated to a carrier protein, offer the opportunity to circumvent these problems. This Perspective will highlight the progress that has been achieved in developing synthetic vaccines using a variety of molecular antigens. In particular, the different approaches used to develop conjugate vaccines using peptide/proteins, carbohydrates and other small molecule haptens as antigens are compared.

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Acknowledgements

I thank M. McCluskie (Pfizer Vaccines) and B. Champion (PsiOxus Therapeutics) for their useful comments regarding this Perspective.

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  1. WorldWide Medicinal Chemistry, Pfizer, 610 Main Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

    • Lyn H. Jones

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Competing interests

L.H.J. is an employee and shareholder of Pfizer.

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Correspondence to Lyn H. Jones.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.2396

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