| NIAID Announces Vaccine Adjuvant Discovery Contracts
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the
National Institutes of Health, today awarded six new research contracts to
discover and characterize novel adjuvants, substances that can be added to
vaccines to enhance the protective immune response they induce.
"The goal of these awards is to find safe new adjuvants that will boost the effectiveness
of vaccines," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "Adjuvants can be used
not only to enhance the immune response to a vaccine and thereby offer better
protection but also to extend the vaccine supply if needed, enabling more people
to be vaccinated with fewer doses."
Currently, the only vaccine adjuvant approved for use in the United
States is an aluminum mixture known as alum.
NIAID has awarded a total of approximately $60 million over five years for these
contracts. The awardees will identify novel compounds with the potential
to be vaccine adjuvants. All compounds will be tested in animal models
and human cells to determine how well they stimulate the immune response.
The investigators also will examine and describe the cellular reactions
the compounds induce.
"The goal of these awards is not only to identify new adjuvant candidates but
also to describe how these candidates work," says Helen Quill, Ph.D., chief of
NIAIDís basic immunology research branch. "We would hope that these adjuvant
candidates will become part of a robust pipeline leading to the development of
many different vaccines."
The awardees of the adjuvant contracts will work to identify and characterize
novel adjuvants that trigger receptors of the inborn, or innate, immune system.
These receptors recognize and bind small molecules that are unique to harmful
microorganisms. Binding stimulates an immediate innate immune response, a broadly
protective reaction. The innate immune response also is required for the development
of the highly specific antibody and T-cell responses that characterize long-term
The investigators also will seek to identify the cellular receptor for each of
the novel adjuvant candidates, determine how it triggers the innate immune response,
and then make changes to the adjuvant to improve its ability to induce the innate
immune response. Although a number of innate immune receptors already have been
described, many more likely exist and are expected to be uncovered in the course
of these projects.
"The award of these contracts is an integral part of NIAID's long-range plan
to expand the adjuvant pipeline" says Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID's
Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation, which oversees these awards. ďA
first round of NIAID contracts, awarded in 2003, limited the discovery of novel
adjuvants to those that stimulated the only group of innate immune receptors
known at the time. With this second round of awards, we intend to increase the
number of adjuvant candidates by expanding the research scope to include all
known innate immune receptors."
The institutions receiving contracts for 2009 are
- James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- Dennis A. Carson, M.D., Moores Cancer Center, University
of California San Diego, La Jolla
- Sunil A. David, M.D., Ph.D., University of Kansas, Lawrence
- Michael J. Gale, Jr., Ph.D., University of Washington School
of Medicine, Seattle
- David A. Johnson, Ph.D., Corixa Corporation (now part of
GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals), Hamilton, Mont.
- Peter Palese, Ph.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New
NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and
worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and
to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses.
News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on
the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.