A multidisciplinary group of researchers created a new methodology that can identify the effectiveness of vaccine immunity, based on a genetic makeup of a person receiving the vaccine. The research was conducted by scientists from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University, the Center for Operations Research in Medicine and Healthcare at Georgia Tech, and the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle.
From a Georgia Tech press release:
The researchers used YF-17D [yellow fever vaccine YF-17D was a model in the research –ed.], to predict the body’s ability shortly after immunization to stimulate a strong and enduring immunity. Researchers vaccinated 15 healthy individuals with YF-17D and studied the T cell and antibody responses in their blood. There was a striking variation in these responses between individuals. Analysis of gene expression patterns in white blood cells revealed in the majority of the individuals the vaccine induced a network of genes involved in the early innate immune response against viruses.
A major challenge in the study involved the identification of discriminatory gene signatures—among over 50,000 genes—that can predict the responses of T cells and antibodies. Lee has developed powerful modeling, computational feature selection and predictive tools that overcome shortcomings of existing techniques, which often have limited ability to handle data sets involving heterogeneous, large-scale, ill-separated and mixed biological and medical data. Her approach offers a very robust classification framework that effectively handles such data sets and derives a classifier that often provides higher prediction accuracy and lower misclassification errors than classifiers derived from other methods.
"Using such a bioinformatics approach, we were able to identify distinct gene signatures that correlated with the T cell response and the antibody response induced by the vaccine,” says Pulendran. “To determine whether these gene signatures could predict immune response, we vaccinated a second group of individuals and were able to predict with up to 90 percent accuracy which of the vaccinated individuals would develop a strong T or B cell immunity to yellow fever,” continues Pulendran.