23. Adjuvants: From Serendipity to Rational Discovery

  1. W. John W. Morrow PhD, DSc, FRCPath3,
  2. Nadeem A. Sheikh PhD4,
  3. Clint S. Schmidt PhD5 and
  4. D. Huw Davies PhD6
  1. Derek T. O'Hagan PhD1 and
  2. Andreas Wack2

Published Online: 20 JUN 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118345313.ch23

Vaccinology: Principles and Practice

Vaccinology: Principles and Practice

How to Cite

O'Hagan, D. T. and Wack, A. (2012) Adjuvants: From Serendipity to Rational Discovery, in Vaccinology: Principles and Practice (eds W. J. W. Morrow, N. A. Sheikh, C. S. Schmidt and D. H. Davies), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118345313.ch23

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Seattle, WA, USA

  2. 4

    Dendreon Corporation, Seattle, WA, USA

  3. 5

    NovaDigm Therapeutics, Inc., Grand Forks, ND, USA

  4. 6

    University of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA

Author Information

  1. 1

    Global Head, Vaccine Delivery and Formulation, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc., Cambridge, MA, USA

  2. 2

    Division of Immunoregulation, National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 JUN 2012
  2. Published Print: 3 AUG 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405185745

Online ISBN: 9781118345313



  • adjuvant;
  • vaccine;
  • alum;
  • dendritic cell;
  • granulocyte;
  • innate immunity;
  • inflammasome;
  • Toll-like receptor;
  • emulsion


Adjuvants are substances that increase the specific immune response to a co-administered vaccine antigen. They will be increasingly important in future vaccines comprised of highly purified soluble recombinant protein antigens that are poorly immunogenic; to increase immunogenicity in infants, elderly, and other at-risk target groups of vaccination; to direct the immune response toward a desired functional profile; to broaden the antibody response for heterologous protection; or to allow antigen dose sparing. The history of adjuvant discovery is characterized by empiricism, frequent failures and limited success. In recent years, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying adjuvanticity are beginning to become better understood, which will eventually allow for more rational ways to improve, combine, and enhance existing adjuvants and discover new, safer, and more potent ones in the future.