Adjuvant Bank Facility

Contact: Dr Anita Milicic, Adjuvant Core Facility Manager
Tel: +44 (0)1865 617623
Email: anita.milicic@ndm.ox.ac.uk

What are adjuvants?

Adjuvants (from the Latin adiuvare, meaning “to help”) have been used to enhance the protective efficacy of vaccines for over 80 years.

Historically, many diverse compounds – from breadcrumbs to live tuberculosis bacteria - have been tried as vaccine adjuvants. More recently, the advances in our understanding of the innate immune system have given rise to new vaccine adjuvants, able to induce stronger as well as more targeted immune response to the vaccine antigen, opening the possibilities for developing vaccines against more complex infectious diseases, such as malaria or HIV.

Identifying and accessing adjuvants

Over past decades, development of new potent adjuvants has been the prerogative of major pharmaceutical companies, with limited access for public sector research. The Jenner Adjuvant Bank was established in 2009 through a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award, with the key objective of accessing a large range of promising adjuvants and building an in-house capacity for adjuvant application, optimisation and evaluation in the development of novel human and livestock vaccines.

The Bank currently holds over 50 adjuvants with immunostimulatory and/or antigen delivery properties, from oil and water emulsions, liposomes, TLR agonists, polymers, to more complex multicomponent adjuvants, such as saponin and lipid based Immunostimulating Complexes (ISCOMs). In terms of novel adjuvants, particular focus has been placed on proprietary pilot research compounds obtained through material transfer agreements. For selected pre-clinical applications we have been successful in negotiating access to adjuvants with proven safety and efficacy, licensed for human use. More recently, the Bank has been granted access to adjuvants through the TRANSVAC infrastructure funded by the European Commission FP7 programme and coordinated by the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI). This involves access to biosimilars of established potent adjuvants, formulated and tested by the Vaccine Formulation Laboratory (VFL), a WHO Collaborating Centre in Lausanne. To increase our holdings, we are regularly reviewing and identifying novel compounds that might be of interest.

Experimental evaluation of adjuvant efficacy

Experimental assessment of adjuvants from the Bank has been carried out with vaccines against malaria (liver, blood and transmission stage), influenza, tuberculosis (TB), Staphylococcus aureus, Meningitis B and prostate cancer. Good protective efficacy with our leading liver-stage malaria vaccine tested with a range of adjuvants in preclinical challenge models led to a Phase I clinical trial of the vaccine combined with Matrix M, an ISCOM adjuvant, which showed a good safety profile. Veterinary applications to date include Rift Valley Fever Virus in pre-clinical (mice) and clinical (sheep) settings, as well as evaluation of adjuvants in combination with a Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) vaccine in cattle and E. coli infection in turkeys. Our work on adjuvants has led to a patent application on “Viral Vector Immunogenic Compositions” filed by Isis Innovation Ltd. in September 2011.

We welcome opportunities for collaboration or business partnership; enquiries can be directed to Dr. Anita Milicic: anita.milicic@ndm.ox.ac.uk.