How can vaccines be manipulated to redirect optimal immune responses to where they are most needed?

Attempting to understand bacterial immunity also informs another focus of the lab: defining mechanisms of vaccine-mediated immunity, particularly against enteric pathogens like Salmonella. For pathogens such as this, it would be desirable to direct immune cells to the intestines where they can target the bacteria at their initial entry point, but it is unclear how this might be achieved. While it is known that vaccines given via traditional routes, i.e. intramuscularly, can protect against many infectious diseases, it is less clear how changing routes or vaccine make-up can affect immune cell migration or phenotype. Does immunizing in skin direct a different response compared to immunizing via another route? Does the type of adjuvant change the predominant immune response from antibody-dominated to one that is more cell-mediated? We are investigating these questions using different types of vaccine adjuvants and immunization routes combined with pMHCII tetramers. Our ultimate goal is to be able to imprint an anatomical “zip code” for the correct type of cells against a particular pathogen based purely on vaccine design.

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