Novel adjuvant technologies have a key role in the development of next-generation vaccines, due to their capacity to modulate the duration, strength and quality of the immune response. The AS01 adjuvant is used in the malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 and in the licensed herpes-zoster vaccine (Shingrix) where the vaccine has proven its ability to generate protective responses with both robust humoral and T-cell responses. For many years, animal models have provided insights into adjuvant mode-of-action (MoA), generally through investigating individual genes or proteins. Furthermore, modeling and simulation techniques can be utilized to integrate a variety of different data types; ranging from serum biomarkers to large scale "omics" datasets. In this perspective we present a framework to create a holistic integration of pre-clinical datasets and immunological literature in order to develop an evidence-based hypothesis of AS01 adjuvant MoA, creating a unified view of multiple experiments. Furthermore, we highlight how holistic systems-knowledge can serve as a basis for the construction of models and simulations supporting exploration of key questions surrounding adjuvant MoA. Using the Systems-Biology-Graphical-Notation, a tool for graphical representation of biological processes, we have captured high-level cellular behaviors and interactions, and cytokine dynamics during the early immune response, which are substantiated by a series of diagrams detailing cellular dynamics. Through explicitly describing AS01 MoA we have built a consensus of understanding across multiple experiments, and so we present a framework to integrate modeling approaches into exploring adjuvant MoA, in order to guide experimental design, interpret results and inform rational design of vaccines.
AS01, adjuvants, computational biology, mathematical modeling, mechanistic modeling, systems biology, vaccines