The Need for Adjuvants

Several speakers today discussed the development of new adjuvants, and Norman Baylor of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave an overview of the FDA’s safety and other regulatory requirements for adjuvants to be licensed for use in humans. “The biggest concern is safety,” he said. “That’s what we really need to demonstrate with these new adjuvants.” 

Baylor also pointed out that, ironically, adjuvants are now necessary because the natural adjuvants vaccines usually contain are removed when they are purified to make them safer and less reactogenic. “The irony is that when we were using whole cell products we had natural adjuvants,” Baylor said. “We purified these products and now we need the adjuvants back, so we've got to make new adjuvants and then we face potential safety issues all over again.” 

The conference ended today, and in his closing remarks, Rino Rappuoli, head of research at Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics in Siena, Italy, and one of the three scientific organizers of the conference (seeQ&A: Rino Rappuoli), told the attendees how important he felt it was to get immunologists and vaccinologists together at the meeting. “I feel that it was very important to get together these two groups of people,” he said. “I think we started a dialogue. I hope [and] I am sure this dialogue is going to continue. I think that in order to approach the problems of the future, we need to do better than nature. So far, we managed to do as good as nature, with the vaccinologists doing their job and immunologists doing their job. Now if we want to do better than nature, we need to get together.”