JOHNSON CITY – Five East Tennessee State University scientists recently participated in an international study focused on developing new approaches to improve the effectiveness of vaccines.
Data from this multi-institutional study, “An adjuvant strategy enabled by modulation of the physical properties of microbial ligands expands antigen immunogenicity,” was published in the journal Cell.
The research focused on modulating the physical properties of fungal sugars, called mannans, to improve their adjuvant properties when combined with vaccine formulations. Adjuvants are compounds that enhance the immune response to vaccines.
The results demonstrate that fungal mannan adjuvants boost vaccine effectiveness against respiratory viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and influenza. The authors concluded that the physical properties of fungal mannans “determine the outcome of the immune response and can be harnessed for vaccine development.”
The ETSU research team was led by Dr. David L. Williams, Carroll H. Long Professor of Surgery in the Quillen College of Medicine and co-director of the ETSU Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity (CIIDI), and included Drs. Michael Kruppa, Douglas Lowman, Zuchao Ma and Harry Ensley from the Quillen departments of Surgery and Biomedical Sciences and CIIDI.
The study was led by Dr. Ivan Zanoni at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Francesco Borriello, also of BCH and Harvard, was the lead author. In addition to these and other BCH/Harvard scientists, participants in this study included researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, University of Maryland, University of Milan, Tokyo University of Science, Oregon Health and Science University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
This study was funded by the Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health.