Scientists have discovered a protein that could help make vaccinations more effective and provide protection from diseases such as cancer. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) in the US purified a protein found on the exterior of bacteria – neisseria meningidis – and used it as an accessary to provide a better vaccination response. Typically, vaccines can either increase the amount of antibody production or they can stimulate cells – called cytotoxic T cells – to directly kill the offending agent.
In this case, the protein called PorB is unique in that it can do both, researchers said. Researchers used two experimental models. The first model was given a vaccination with antigen and mixed PorB, while the second model was given the antigen alone. The model that received the PorB had an increase in the response to the vaccine antigen, evidenced by an increased number of activated cells in the lymph nodes and a gain in the production of cytotoxic T cells, as compared to the vaccination with the antigen alone, researchers said.
“Our study deepens the general understanding of how vaccine adjuvants modulate immune responses,” said Lee Wetzler, professor of medicine and microbiology at BUSM. “The antigen formulation with PorB triggers a sequence of cellular events at the periphery and in lymphoid tissue that are critical for the establishment of protection to a broad array of infectious diseases, and maybe for other diseases like cancer,” Lee said. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.