Shigella is the second most common cause of moderate to severe diarrhea among children worldwide and of diarrheal disease-associated mortality in young children in low-and middle-income countries. In spite of many years of attempts to develop Shigella vaccines, no licensed vaccines are yet available. Injectable conjugate vaccines made of the detoxified lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of S. flexneri 2a, S. sonnei, and S. dysenteriae type 1 covalently bound to protein carriers were developed in the early 1990s by John B. Robbins and Rachel Schneerson at the US National Institutes of Health. This approach was novel for a disease of the gut mucosa, at a time when live, rationally attenuated oral vaccine strains that intended to mimic Shigella infection and induce a protective local immune response were extensively investigated. Of keystone support to Shigella glycoconjugates development were the findings of a strong association between pre-existent serum IgG antibodies to S. sonnei or S. flexneri 2a LPS and a lower risk of infection with the homologous Shigella serotypes among Israeli soldiers serving in field units. In view of these findings and of the successful development of the pioneering Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccines, it was hypothesized that protective immunity may be conferred by serum IgG antibodies to the O-Specific Polysaccharide (O-SP) following parenteral delivery of the conjugates. S. sonnei and S. flexneri 2a glycoconjugates induced high levels of serum IgG against the homologous LPS in phase I and II studies in healthy volunteers. The protective efficacy of a S. sonnei detoxified LPS-conjugate was further demonstrated in field trials in young adults (74%) and in children older than three years of age (71%), but not in younger ones. The evaluation of the Shigella conjugates confirmed that IgG antibodies to Shigella LPS are correlates of protection and provided solid basis for the development of a new generation of glycoconjugates and other injectable LPS-based vaccines that are currently in advanced stages of clinical evaluation.
- conjugate vaccines
- correlates of protection