In collaboration with Dr. Gregory Poland at the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, researchers from the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) are looking at the role human genes have on individual variability of immune responses following smallpox vaccination. Study results evaluating associations between genetics and smallpox vaccine response were published online, April 18, in Genes and Immunity.
Throughout 2005-2006 NHRC recruited over 1,300 active-duty volunteers, prior recipients of the smallpox vaccine (Dryvax®), from among operational forces in the San Diego area. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic employed next-generation sequencing (mRNA-Seq) methods to evaluate peripheral blood cells from smallpox vaccine recipients with the highest and the lowest vacciniaspecific neutralizing antibody titers.
Researchers were able to describe the resulting up- and down-regulation of numerous genes relating to immunity and to identify three genes with significantly differential expression among those with high compared to low vaccine antibody response.
Smallpox vaccination remains a key component of U.S. military biodefense strategy against this biothreat agent. Vaccination provides the best countermeasure against naturally occurring and engineered biothreat agents.
Although naturally occurring smallpox eradication was declared in 1980 by the World Health Organization, this pathogen remains a significant biothreat to the global community and significant investments have been made to increase biopreparedness capabilities.
The rapidly expanding field of vaccinomics has revealed that genetic variations play important roles in affecting an individual‘s innate and adaptive immune responses to a vaccine. Ultimately, new knowledge may identify individual biomarkers of risk and immunity that can assist in optimizing the development of new vaccines, diagnostic tests, and therapeutics to protect humans from smallpox and other infectious disease threats. Such considerations reflect the “individualized medicine” approach.
Article courtesy of NHRC Public Affairs and Naval Medical Research Center.