As we are continually confronted by the devastating effects of emerging and re-emerging diseases such as malaria, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, and HIV, research and development to find effective vaccines is becoming more important than ever.
Recombinant proteins in combination with novel adjuvants, so-called subunit vaccines, have become a major focus. Creation of these vaccines depends on the identification of appropriate subunit antigens (or epitopes) that the immune system can effectively target. Genomic and proteomic-based technologies are used to identify a number of antigen candidates, from which immunogenic, well-defined antigens can then be chosen for further development.
The criteria to select such antigens depends on certain characteristics such as pathogen conservation, human immunogenicity without compromising safety, and, in many cases, induction of functional antibodies.
Methods to rapidly and efficiently evaluate protein antigenicity are central to the identification of appropriate targets from a large number of antigen candidates, especially regarding the extent to which these candidates can be recognized by the adaptive immune system through T- and B-cell responses.
To address this requirement, ProImmune has developed a rapid antigen-characterization platform that encompasses B-cell epitope prediction and B-cell linear epitope mapping service modules, both of which result in a relative ranking of antigenic regions within proteins or between different proteins in a group.
The T-cell epitope identification and validation process employs MHC-peptide binding and rate assays, antigen-specific T-cell detection by flow cytometry in both preclinical animal models and human samples, and functional cellular assay services such as ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining. Additionally, assessment of the relative antigenicity of candidate subunit vaccines is enabled by naïve T cell and dendritic cell (DC) -T cell proliferation assays.