Immunologic adjuvant

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In immunology, an adjuvant is a substance that increases or modulates the immune response to a vaccine.[1] The word "adjuvant" comes from the Latin word adiuvare, meaning to help or aid. "An immunologic adjuvant is defined as any substance that acts to accelerate, prolong, or enhance antigen-specific immune responses when used in combination with specific vaccine antigens."[2]

In the early days of vaccine manufacture, significant variations in the efficacy of different batches of the same vaccine were correctly assumed to be caused by contamination of the reaction vessels. However, it was soon found that more scrupulous cleaning actually seemed to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines, and some contaminants actually enhanced the immune response.

There are many known adjuvants in widespread use, including aluminium salts, oils and virosomes.[3]