New research has revealed properties of a potential vaccine adjuvant that suggest it could be useful for enhancing protection against a number of different infections. These studies advance the hypothesis that lipid molecules may serve as promising vaccine components. The studies demonstrate that NKT cells can help B cells produce antibodies that recognize lipids, but this does not result in long-lived memory immune responses to the lipid antigens. Second, the studies demonstrate that the lipids, when used as adjuvants to enhance immune responses to more conventional protein antigens, induce memory immune responses against the protein target without inducing a memory response to the lipid itself. Together, these findings suggest a single lipid adjuvant could be used multiple times without losing its effect. The new research also characterizes how NKT cells help B cells produce antibodies when lipids are used as a vaccine adjuvant.
This new data is published in the January 2012 issue of the journal Nature Immunology.