For many decades, conventional vaccinology has faced many obstacles. One major problem is that among several antigens of the microbe, you have to identify the most immunogenic (and thus protective) antigens (such as virulent factors, toxins, surface-associated proteins, etc.) suitable for vaccine development. This process is very fastidious and costs a lot as it relies mainly on traditional biochemical and microbiological methods. As a summary, it is carried out as following:
- Firstly, you have to cultivate the microbe and harvest proteins.
- Then you have to identify the antigens one by one.
- After that you can pass to vaccine development stage.
Introducing genomics has greatly contributed to providing a new impulse to vaccinology field. The major role it plays is in the antigen discovery stage. As the genome sequence of many microbes has been identified, the integration between the sequence, proteomics and microarray has introduced what is called “reverse vaccinology” . Reverse vaccinology (RV) means to identify and characterise the antigen using bioinformatics. In RV, you start from the genome and not from the pathogen itself i.e. you start from the opposite direction, that’s why it is called “reverse”.
RV will provide solutions to some problems that usually come up during vaccine development as:
- It will provide fast access to almost all antigens including:less common antigens and antigens not expressed in vitro.
- It represents a new approach for non culturable microorganisms.
On the other hand, the major disadvantage of RV is that it cannot be applied to non-proteinaceous antigens such as lipopolysaccharides and glycolipids.Tags: GBS, genomics, reverse vaccinology, vaccinology