Based in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital, the Precision Vaccines Program (PVP) fosters international collaboration to characterize distinct vaccine-induced immune responses of vulnerable populations such as the very young and the elderly to inform development of novel vaccines tailored to protect them. Program members have domain expertise in vaccinology, clinical trials, immunology, molecular biology, biostatistics, bioinformatics, and powerful big data (“OMIC”) approaches.
What is Precision Medicine?
- As defined by the National Research Council, refers to the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient.
- Does not literally mean the creation of drugs or medical devices that are unique to a patient.
- Ability to classify individuals into subpopulations that differ in their susceptibility to a particular disease, in the biology and/or prognosis of those diseases they may develop, or in their response to a specific treatment.
- Concentrate preventive or therapeutic interventions on those who most benefit, sparing expense and side effects for those who will not.
- Growing realization that vaccine responses vary with an individual’s characteristics including age, sex, and environmental setting
Infectious Causes of Death are Most Common at the Extremes of Age
As you can see two-thirds of all deaths in early life are due to infection. The risk to die from infection is a function of age, the younger you are the higher the risk. There is an unmet need for safe and effective vaccine formulations to protect populations with distinct immunity: newborns/infants, pregnant mothers and the elderly.
Thus in an era of Precision Medicine, several emerging approaches and technologies will allow more accurate development of vaccines tailored for distinct populations:
In vitro modeling of human immune responses to characterize sub-population-specific responses and identify new adjuvants and adjuvanted vaccine formulations as benchmarked to licensed vaccines.
Heterologous/trained immunity: Live attenuated vaccines such as BCG (Mycobacterium bovis) activate multiple PRRs and may have possible beneficial heterologous effects, especially in early life.
Use of big data/global molecular/OMIC approaches to characterize molecular signatures corresponding to vaccine correlates of protection.
Basic Information On Vaccines
Vaccines have been the key to preventing disease outbreaks in the United States, including polio, measles, and whooping cough. Vaccination protects not only our children, but our friends who may be immunocompromised.
Learn more at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Vaccination Rates at Boston Children's Hospital