Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology 2017 11 019(11) pii 10.1101/cshperspect.a030262
Functional antibodies, i.e., those with antipathogen activity in in vitro assays, are generally the best correlate of vaccine protection. Mimics of natural infection, including live attenuated and killed pathogens, which induce such antibodies in vivo, have generated highly successful vaccines. However, pathogens that induce functional antibodies at lower levels or more sporadically have been more refractory to vaccine design. Such pathogens are being tackled by more systematic approaches involving identifying functional antibodies, templating immunogens from the antibodies, and then evaluating the immunogens iteratively. I believe this is a powerful new approach to vaccine design as discussed below.