• By Robert Nellis

Mayo Clinic researchers recommend investments in vaccine safety in Nature commentary

February 25, 2022
a Mayo researcher, a white male, working in a laboratory

The leaders of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group are emphasizing the need for increased long-term study of vaccines and their mechanisms with future safety of patients in mind.

Gregory Poland, M.D., and Richard Kennedy, Ph.D., write in their commentary in the scientific journal Nature Reviews Immunology that greater focus on understanding vaccines' downstream effects, not only on immunity but also on all the other biological systems will provide information that can help make vaccines safer for all and increase public trust in vaccines.

They call for:

  • Increased study of molecular, genetic and immunological mechanisms of vaccines
    This will help researchers understand and avoid the adverse effects of vaccines.
  • Continued research on adjuvants
    Adjuvants, which are substances that enhance immunity, allow researchers to fine-tune interventions to specific conditions or subsets of disease. In other words, they make targeting more accurate.
  • A "systems biology" approach
    This approach considers all potential interactions and downstream effects that may interfere with other normal body systems.
  • Enhanced surveillance of participants
    This surveillance would include reactions during clinical trials and in routine clinical practice long after a trial has concluded.

They say no vaccine will be completely free from risks and side effects, but by investing more research dollars in infrastructure, assessment, tracking, analysis and longitudinal studies, the safety of future vaccines ― and patient confidence in them ― can be greatly improved.

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