Identification of the most relevant protective antigens has represented a considerable obstacle for the development of subunit vaccines against viral infections, including human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection. This chapter describes the method of analytic vaccinology, centered on the clonal analysis of human B cell response to HCMV, which represents an essential tool for assessing the impact of individual viral antigens in the antiviral antibody response. By providing key information on the immunogenicity and protective properties of the antibodies elicited by viral proteins, the analytic vaccinology method guides the selection of the most appropriate vaccine candidates. Here we discuss methodologies for the generation of human monoclonal antibodies from B cells of immune donors, antibody screening in in vitro assays of antigen binding and virus neutralization, and strategies of animal immunization useful for the preclinical evaluation of selected viral antigens. The approach of analytic vaccinology could be universally applied to the characterization of B-cell immune response against any virus of interest and ultimately used for vaccine development.
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This chapter described work conducted at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (Bellinzona, Switzerland). The project was partially supported by Fondazione CARIPLO Grant 93043/A, Fondazione Carlo Denegri, Swiss National Science Foundation grant 141254, Ministero della Salute grant RF-2010-GR-2010-2311329, and Mäxi Foundation.
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