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Targeting Glycans on Human Pathogens for Vaccine Design

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Topics in Microbiology and Immunology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jul 2018

King's Authors


Glycosylation is an important post-translational modification that is required for structural and stability purposes and functional roles such as signalling, attachment and shielding. Many human pathogens such as bacteria display an array of carbohydrates on their surface that are non-self to the host; others such as viruses highjack the host-cell machinery and present self-carbohydrates sometimes arranged in a non-self more immunogenic manner. In combination with carrier proteins, these glycan structures can be highly immunogenic. During natural infection, glycan-binding antibodies are often elicited that correlate with long-lasting protection. A great amount of research has been invested in carbohydrate vaccine design to elicit such an immune response, which has led to the development of vaccines against the bacterial pathogens Haemophilus influenzae type b, Streptococcus pneumonia and Neisseria meningitidis. Other vaccines, e.g. against HIV-1, are still in development, but promising progress has been made with the isolation of broadly neutralizing glycan-binding antibodies and the engineering of stable trimeric envelope glycoproteins. Carbohydrate vaccines against other pathogens such as viruses (Dengue, Hepatitis C), parasites (Plasmodium) and fungi (Candida) are at different stages of development. This chapter will discuss the challenges in inducing cross-reactive carbohydrate-targeting antibodies and progress towards carbohydrate vaccines.

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