Boston University Researchers Find Protein That Increases Effectiveness Of Vaccines

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Boston University researchers have detected a protein that they believe can help increase the effectiveness of vaccines. It is speculated that this can even provide protection from other diseases such as cancer.

Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers purified a protein that they extracted from the exterior of bacteria (neisseria meningidis). They used it as an accessory to provide a better vaccination response.

Vaccines can usually increase the amount of antibody production or they can stimulate cells, called cytotoxic T cells, to directly kill the offending agent. The protein in the study is named PorB and is unique because it can do both.

In a press release, via EurekAlert, Lee Wetzler, MD, corresponding author and professor of medicine and microbiology at BUSM, said that the study had wide implications because the protein could be used to help the body identify and fight off bacterial infections. It also has the potential to help the body use its own machinery to fight off other diseases like cancer, HIV and influenza before the disease has a chance to establish itself within the body.

The researchers employed two experimental models. The first was given a vaccination with antigen and mixed PorB. The second model was given antigen alone.

They discovered that the first model, which received the PorB, saw an increase in the response to the vaccine antigen. This was proven 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 second model with the vaccination and antigen only.

Wetzler, who is also a physician in Boston Medical Center's Department of Infectious Diseases, added that their study provided more insight on how vaccine adjuvants modulate immune responses. The antigen formulation with PorB triggered a sequence of cellular events at the periphery and in lymphoid tissue that play a significant role in the establishment of protection to various infectious diseases and maybe for other illnesses like cancer.

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