"Like Rocket Fuel" Discovery of a Substance That Boosts Immunity in Vaccine Recipients "Like Rocket Fuel" Discovery of a Substance That Boosts Immunity in Vaccine Recipients

"Like Rocket Fuel" Discovery of a Substance That Boosts Immunity in Vaccine Recipients

"Like Rocket Fuel" Discovery of a Substance That Boosts Immunity in Vaccine Recipients

A team of scientists has identified a promising new adjuvant that helps boost immune responses in vaccine recipients, called PVP-037.

“In principle, this compound could be added to any vaccine to enhance its effectiveness,” says Ofer Levy, who directs the precision vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Adjuvants are like rocket fuel for the immune system. PVP-037 is one of the most ‘active’ adjuvants discovered, and we believe it stimulates a greater, more durable and broader immune response to vaccines.”

In the study, the scientists began by screening more than 200,000 small molecules from the Harvard Medical School library in human immune cells, specifically primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells, obtained from donors. PVP-037 was found to be the most active.

PVP-037 belongs to a family of molecules called imidazopyrimidines, which are active immunomodulators. PVP-037 and its analogues target the innate immune system.

“Screening small molecules against human primary cells is messy, because every individual is different, but that’s the point: it’s more reflective of human biology,” Levy says. “A good adjuvant should be able to work across diverse populations.”

An improved version of PVP-037 showed broad-spectrum innate immune activation in donor immune cells. In live mice, it boosted antibody responses against influenza and SARS-CoV-2 vaccine proteins.

The research team hopes that this discovery will help adopt a similar innovation strategy for the discovery and development of adjuvants and vaccines.

The results were published in Science Advances.

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