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MHRP Researchers Provide Insight into Worlds Most Potent Vaccine Adjuvant

April 20, 2015
MHRP researcher and liposome pioneer Dr. Carl Alving and his team deconstruct the underlying science behind the physical structure of the world’s most potent vaccine adjuvant.

In a new paper titled, “Detection of liposomal cholesterol and monophosphoryl lipid A by QS-21 saponin and Limulus polyphemus amebocyte lysate,” MHRP researcher and liposome pioneer Dr. Carl Alving and his team deconstruct the underlying science behind the physical structure of the world’s most potent vaccine adjuvant. 

The paper, published in the March issue of the journal, BBA Biomembranes, reveals insights into the understanding of the chemical and physical properties of the powerful AS01B liposome-based adjuvant, which has been used in clinical trials for years to heighten the potency of vaccines to malaria and other diseases. 

GlaxoSmithKline owns the AS01B adjuvant, but this is the first detailed analysis of alternative forms of the formulation and of chemical components of the adjuvant. 

Alving hopes his analysis of the AS01B component structure will increase the field’s understanding of the physical composition of similar vaccine adjuvants, which will enable scientists to create stronger and even more potent vaccines. 

“There’s never been a detailed scientific paper published on the chemistry and physical structure of AS01B, and few people understood its chemical properties or how and why the adjuvant worked so well,” Alving said. “Now that we’ve figured out exactly what you can and cannot do from a physical standpoint with variations of this adjuvant, we hope the field will begin to launch rational designs of new vaccines based on the findings.” 

He added that he also hopes the findings can be leveraged to improve the products used in human trials to vaccinate against HIV-1 and other endemic diseases. 

“Understanding the science behind powerful adjuvants is an important key to understanding how we can make better vaccines,” Alving said. 

Adjuvants are substances added to vaccines to boost the body’s immune response to the vaccine.  Alving has studied liposomes – a key component of AS01B and similar types of adjuvants – for more than 30 years.