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
SEP 30, 2020
Microbiology
Bringing Attention to a Neglected Disease
SEP 30, 2020
Bringing Attention to a Neglected Disease
Schistosomiasis doesn't get much research attention, but it affects around 240 million people around the world, killing ...
OCT 01, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
HPV Vaccine Protects Against Cervical Cancer, Large Study Finds
OCT 01, 2020
HPV Vaccine Protects Against Cervical Cancer, Large Study Finds
It has been known for some time that the HPV vaccine protects against human papillomavirus infection, genital warts, and ...
OCT 05, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Gaining Insight Into the Connection Between Depression and Stress
OCT 05, 2020
Gaining Insight Into the Connection Between Depression and Stress
Depression is a common mental illness, and stress is known to be an environmental influence that can increase the risk o ...
OCT 17, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Imaging Innovation Set to Ease the Pain of Osteoarthritis
OCT 17, 2020
Imaging Innovation Set to Ease the Pain of Osteoarthritis
In osteoarthritis, the joint cartilage that cushions bones begins to break down, causing debilitating pain and stiffness ...
OCT 14, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The CRISPR Nobel Win from Different Angles
OCT 14, 2020
The CRISPR Nobel Win from Different Angles
CRISPR-Cas9 was THE buzz word in the world of science after the Nobel Chemistry Prize announcement last week. But depend ...
OCT 18, 2020
Cardiology
Many Heart Disease Deaths Are Preventable With Diet Improvements
OCT 18, 2020
Many Heart Disease Deaths Are Preventable With Diet Improvements
New research has suggested that over two-thirds of heart disease cases around the world are preventable with improvement ...
Loading Comments...