COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 Informational Resource Page
Viral Vaccine Platforms
What's a Vaccine Platform?
The term platform has become a bit of a buzzword that is applied to many different vaccines. The term may be derived from or rather used to describe widely divergent technological approaches. We distinguish platforms based on broad strategies for delivering and presenting target antigens to the body in order to illicit a lasting immune response.
You've probably noticed that there are a lot of words with very specific and specialized uses in vaccinology and immunology that many people don't use in their day-to-day vocabulary. Here's a short list to help familiarize yourself with some important terms. A more complete glossary of terms can be found on the CDC website.
- Adjuvant - A vaccine component distinct from the antigen that enhances the immune response to the antigen.
- Antibody - A protein found in the blood that is produced in response to foreign substances (e.g. bacteria or viruses) invading the body. Antibodies protect the body from disease by binding to these organisms and destroying them.
- Antigen - Foreign substances (e.g. bacteria or viruses) in the body that are capable of causing disease. The presence of antigens in the body triggers an immune response, usually the production of antibodies.
- B cells - Small white blood cells that help the body defend itself against infection. These cells are produced in bone marrow and develop into plasma cells which produce antibodies.
- Memory cells - Group of cells formed from B cells that help the body defend itself against disease by remembering prior exposure to specific organisms (e.g. viruses or bacteria). Therefore these cells are able to respond quickly when these organisms repeatedly threaten the body.
- T cells - A type of leukocyte (white blood cell) that are an essential part of the immune system. T cells can be differentiated into Helper (CD4+) or Cytotoxic (CD8+) T cells. CD4+ T cells help buffer and alert the immune system, while CD8+ T cells destroy infected cells.