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Study: Contemporary Vaccines have low durability

Why is it in the news?

  • The measles vaccine stands out for its lifelong protection against measles disease, unlike most other vaccines requiring multiple boosters.
  • A review of 34 licensed vaccines revealed only five offering over 20 years of protection, with three providing lifelong immunity.
  • Most vaccines offer short-term protection, spanning 5-20 years or less, highlighting the need for ongoing vaccination efforts.

Factors affecting vaccine durability

Vaccine-related Factors

  • Live attenuated vaccines, such as those for measles and rubella, typically offer longer-lasting immunity compared to inactivated or subunit vaccines.
  • The addition of adjuvants to vaccines can significantly affect the strength and duration of the immune response. Certain adjuvants, like TLR agonists, can directly influence memory B cell functions and enhance immune memory, potentially leading to longer-lasting protection.
  • Newer vaccine platforms, such as virus-like particles (VLPs), offer opportunities to design vaccines with enhanced durability. These platforms allow for precise control over antigen presentation and can stimulate a more potent and sustained immune response.

 

Pathogen-related Factors

  • Pathogens with shorter incubation periods, such as influenza and SARS-CoV-2, may result in shorter-lasting immunity.
  • The genetic stability of the virus contained in the vaccine can influence the durability of immunity. Highly mutable viruses, like RNA viruses, may require frequent updates to maintain vaccine effectiveness.
  • Pathogens that cause mucosal infections and spread rapidly from person to person, like respiratory viruses, may lead to more frequent reinfections and shorter-lasting immunity compared to pathogens with slower transmission dynamics.

 

Host-related Factors

  • The age at which an individual receives a vaccine can impact the persistence of vaccine-induced antibodies. Immune responses may be shorter-lived at both extremes of age due to the immaturity of the immune system in infants and the senescence of the immune system in the elderly.
  • Studies have shown that biological females often elicit more robust immune responses to infections and vaccines compared to males.
  • Obesity has been linked to accelerated waning of vaccine efficacy, potentially reducing the duration of protection provided by vaccines.
  • The time of day at which a vaccine is administered can affect the robustness of the immune response. Circadian rhythms influence immune-cell processes, and vaccines given in the morning may confer better immunological responses compared to those given later in the day.

 

Vaccine-induced Immunity Mechanism

  • Vaccine-induced immunity relies on the production of memory B cells and long-lasting plasma cells (LLPCs) in the bone marrow. These cells confer long-term protection by “remembering” the antigen and rapidly producing antibodies upon re-exposure.
  • Not all vaccines induce the same level or duration of memory B cell and LLPC responses. Some vaccines may require frequent boosters to maintain adequate levels of immunity, while others provide lifelong protection after a single dose.
  • Rapid advancements in bioengineering technologies enable precise control over vaccine design and delivery. Nanoparticles, VLPs, and novel adjuvants can be utilized to optimize antigen presentation and stimulate durable immune responses.
  • A deeper understanding of immune response dynamics allows for strategic vaccine design aimed at maximizing durability with fewer doses. By targeting specific immune pathways and optimizing antigen delivery, vaccines can be engineered to provide long-lasting protection against infectious diseases.

Conclusion

  • Ongoing research into immune response mechanisms and vaccine durability will further elucidate the factors influencing vaccine efficacy and longevity.
  • Integration of new technologies, such as mRNA vaccines and gene editing techniques, may lead to the development of even more durable vaccines capable of providing lifelong immunity.
  • Advances in personalized medicine may enable the development of vaccines tailored to individual immune profiles, maximizing effectiveness and durability.
  • International collaboration and coordination are essential for addressing vaccine durability challenges and ensuring equitable access to effective vaccines worldwide.

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