Advances in antiviral vaccine development

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Antiviral vaccines have been the most successful biomedical intervention for preventing epidemic viral disease. Vaccination for smallpox in humans and rinderpest in cattle was the basis for disease eradication, and recent progress in polio eradication is promising. Although early vaccines were developed empirically by passage in live animals or eggs, more recent vaccines have been developed because of the advent of new technologies, particularly cell culture and molecular biology. Recent technological advances in gene delivery and expression, nanoparticles, protein manufacturing, and adjuvants have created the potential for new vaccine platforms that may provide solutions for vaccines against viral pathogens for which no interventions currently exist. In addition, the technological convergence of human monoclonal antibody isolation, structural biology, and high-throughput sequencing is providing new opportunities for atomic-level immunogen design. Selection of human monoclonal antibodies can identify immunodominant antigenic sites associated with neutralization and provide reagents for stabilizing and solving the structure of viral surface proteins. Understanding the structural basis for neutralization can guide selection of vaccine targets. Deep sequencing of the antibody repertoire and defining the ontogeny of the desired antibody responses can reveal the junctional recombination and somatic mutation requirements for B-cell recognition and affinity maturation. Collectively, this information will provide new strategic approaches for selecting vaccine antigens, formulations, and regimens. Moreover, it creates the potential for rational vaccine design and establishing a catalogue of vaccine technology platforms that would be effective against any given family or class of viral pathogens and improve our readiness to address new emerging viral threats.

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