Immunology of Carbohydrate Antigens

Pathogens are decorated with structurally distinct surface glycans that are recognized by the immune system. We exploit chemically synthesized cell-surface glycans of clinically relevant bacterial and parasitic pathogens as immunogens for vaccination. Chemically synthesized cell-surface glycans allow the generation of highly specific antibody responses to complex glycan structures. Attachment of these glycans to immunogenic carrier proteins and different adjuvants are used to increase the immunogenicity of synthetic glycan antigens.
These semi-synthetic vaccine candidates are immunologically evaluated in small animal models such as the mouse model. Antibody responses to the bacterial surface glycans are monitored by means of glycan microarray and other techniques including surface plasmon resonance and ELISA. Challenge studies are performed to prove immunoprotective effects of the vaccine candidates. Monoclonal antibodies against pathogen-specific surface carbohydrates are generated and serve as diagnostic tools for pathogen detection. This allows rapid strain-specific detection and is of relevance especially for pathogens with bio warfare potential, such as Plague and Anthrax bacteria.

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