High-throughput sequencing in vaccine research

31 May 2021
Pasik K and DomaƄska-Blicharz K

The world of vaccines has changed tremendously since the time of Louis Pasteur. In the present day, it is regarded as vaccinology, a discipline which includes not only the knowledge of vaccine production, strategies for its delivery and influence on the clinical course of disease and the response of the host immune system but also regulatory, ethical, economic and ecological aspects of their use. A hundred years after Pasteur created the first vaccine, there was another scientific breakthrough of great importance in this field, i. e. Sanger sequencing. Progress in genome sequencing and other molecular techniques over the intervening 40 years has been enormous. High-throughput sequencing (HTS) platforms and bioinformatics tools are becoming widely available, falling in cost, and results are achieved very quickly. They enable the construction of modern vaccines, as well as the assessment of their safety, effectiveness and impact on the host organism and the environment. These techniques can also provide a tool for quality control of vaccines. Unprecedented possibilities are opened up by the HTS technique, but limiting factors on its implementation have to be contended with such as lack of reference materials and problems with method optimisation or validation. In the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic, a significant role is allotted to this sequencing technique while an effective vaccine against the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is sough.