What is an adjuvant?

For vaccines, an adjuvant is an agent that is added to a vaccine to stimulate the immune system and increase the response to the vaccine.

How long have adjuvants been used in vaccines?

Adjuvants have been used in vaccines since the 1930s, the first adjuvants used were aluminium salts which were added to diphtheria and tetanus vaccines.

What forms of adjuvants are there?

Types of adjuvants include: Aluminium salts; Calcium salts; Oil Emulsions; Virosomes, ISCOMS (structured complex of saponins and lipids); Microbial derivatives; Plant derivatives and Endogenous immunostimulatory adjuvants - e.g., cytokines. More information on types of adjuvants can be found in the adjuvant section of this site.

How do I become a member of GADI?

Please send an email to GADI@who.int expressing your interest in joining, please specify your institute name and why you would like to join.

Are adjuvants safe?

The safety of adjuvants must be determined on a case by case basis. Since adjuvants have their own pharmacological properties, which might affect both the immunogenicity and the safety of vaccines, safety assessment is essential.

This page is still under development, if you have any questions not listed here please email GADI@who.int

Last update: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
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