OCT 28, 2015 2:20 PM PDT

Toll-Like Receptor Agonists Boost the Power of Vaccines

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Flu season looms overhead, and it's more important than ever to get vaccinated. Every year the flu virus mutates, and scientists make complicated predictions in order to make an effective vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine does more than decrease your risk of contracting full-blown flu - fever, body aches, sore throat, coughing - the whole nine yards. Getting vaccinated also protects people who are immunocompromised and can't get the vaccine - babies, the elderly, and people with autoimmune diseases. 
A toll-like receptor
New research shows potential for vaccines to become even more effective, using toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists (activators) to get a stronger response from the immune system. The study, published in ACS Central Science, investigated the TLR agonist mechanism of directing the immune system, used to boost the effectiveness of antigen-based vaccines. Some vaccines, like the annual flu vaccine, recruit a dead or weakened virus to stimulate the innate immune system and activate TLRs. Antigen-based vaccines use only a small fragment of the virus to stimulate the immune system, and subsequently they achieve a smaller immune response - however with less side effects than whole pathogen vaccines.

TLRs are "first-responders" that play a large role in detecting infecting pathogens through pattern recognition, a process where both the innate and adaptive immune systems are activated to fight the infection (Nature). TLR activators are "common adjuvants" added to antigen-based vaccines in order to enhance their effectiveness. Dr. Aaron Esser-Kahn, lead researcher of the study, and his team looked to manipulate this mechanism to improve vaccines using the molecules TLR agonists use to activate the immune system. 

Significant findings showed TLR agonist activity is impacted by their arrangment in space. Esser-Kahn and his team then looked to "probe this biological machinery" by displaying three different TLR agonists "with a defined spatial orientation" on synthesized probes. Rather than simply combining the three TLR agonists together to stimulate an immune response, the probe that spatially connected the activators raised a more effective immune response.

Moving forward, Esser-Kahn and his team will continue by breaking down the TLR agonists to see which specific actions each component performs and which actions are most important to activating an immune response. 

Watch the following TLR animation to visualize how these "cellular watchmen" naturally stimulate the innate immune system during infection. 



Source: ScienceDaily

 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 25, 2021
Cardiology
Don't Underestimate the Importance of the Spleen
AUG 25, 2021
Don't Underestimate the Importance of the Spleen
The spleen is one of the organs we can live without, but researchers are increasingly recognizing its importance. We kno ...
AUG 27, 2021
Health & Medicine
Blood Group and COVID-19 Susceptibility- An Ongoing Debate
AUG 27, 2021
Blood Group and COVID-19 Susceptibility- An Ongoing Debate
Since their discovery, there has been an interest in how ABO blood groups and infectious diseases may be related. In add ...
AUG 30, 2021
Microbiology
Do Farmed Carnivores Promote Zoonotic Disease?
AUG 30, 2021
Do Farmed Carnivores Promote Zoonotic Disease?
Researchers have found that the immune systems of some carnivorous animals appear to be defective; they don't express a ...
AUG 31, 2021
Health & Medicine
Your metabolism does slow down as you age, but not until you're over 60
AUG 31, 2021
Your metabolism does slow down as you age, but not until you're over 60
A new study shows that, yes, your metabolism does slow down as you age, but not until you're over 60
SEP 14, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
A novel drug that targets the removal of pathogenic antibodies in myasthenia gravis
SEP 14, 2021
A novel drug that targets the removal of pathogenic antibodies in myasthenia gravis
Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by muscle weakness and fatigue. The disorder leads to a ...
SEP 16, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
A shot for sore eyes: a novel injectable drug to treat age-related vision loss
SEP 16, 2021
A shot for sore eyes: a novel injectable drug to treat age-related vision loss
According to the Population Reference Bureau, 40 million people in the United States are aged 65 and older. This nu ...
Loading Comments...