Nevena Zaharieva, Ivan Dimitrov, Darren R Flower and Irini Doytchinova
Vaccination stands alone as an unparalleled medical intervention able to save human lives numbering hundreds of millions. Modern licensed vaccines are either whole organism based or based on single proteins, together with carbohydrate epitope-based vaccines. Single protein or so-called subunit vaccines are prime targets for vaccine design and reverse vaccinology. Immunoinformatics is a branch of bioinformatics focusing on immunology and vaccinology, which includes database compilation, data mining, and epitope prediction. Immunoinformatics can aid in the discovery of subunit vaccines through algorithms for immunogenicity prediction. VaxiJen is the first and, ostensibly, the only widely-used method for distinguishing between immunogens and non-immunogens among proteins of bacterial, viral, parasite, fungal and tumour origin. In this review, we chart the applications of VaxiJen, placing these into context, and explore some of the future directions that research into identifying immunogens might take.