The Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, UK, has launched the LEGACY03 study into human immunity, aimed to improve the design of seasonal vaccines and allow targeting by age group.
This study, funded by the Medical Research Council, will test the responses of cells in lymph nodes before and after immunisation with flu and Covid-19 vaccines and compare reactions in older and younger adults.
The results will contribute to future vaccine design which will offer greater protection to those most vulnerable to diseases such as flu and Covid-19 and also those better suited for younger people.
As we age, our immune system changes and with it our response to vaccines. Our risk of complications from infections like flu and Covid-19 also increases and it is therefore important to understand these changes so that vaccinations can be better tailored for maximum efficacy to protect the most vulnerable.
Dr Katrina Pollock, MRC Clinician Scientist in Vaccinology at the Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics, explained the challenges faced in developing vaccines: “The first major challenge is the diversity of responses to vaccines in different people, particularly the most vulnerable like older adults or those living with conditions that affect immune function. The second major challenge is making vaccines for targets that rapidly evolve, like Covid-19 and HIV.
“This study will take an innovative look at individual immune responses using vaccinations as a tool to investigate human immunity at the cellular level. This will help us to tailor future vaccine design to get a better outcome for patients across the board. It has the potential to impact patients for the better and that is what drives my research.”