Feasibility Analysis of Interleukin-13 as a Target for a Therapeutic Vaccine

John Foerster (Lead / Corresponding author), Aleksandra Molęda (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
151 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The development of therapeutic vaccines requires thorough knowledge of potential hazards associated with long-term inactivation of self-proteins. Among potential targets, interleukin 13 (IL-13) merits consideration, as monoclonal antibodies disrupting IL-13 signaling are proving to be exceedingly effective in common conditions such as atopic dermatitis.

Objective: Given the mass publication of scientific data, an appraisal of safety aspects is challenging.

Methods: We here provide a three-fold approach to survey clinically relevant information on off-target effects, both adverse and beneficial, that may potentially be encountered in patients undergoing long-term IL-13 inactivation. First, we review non-clinical data in vivo and in vitro. Second, we summarize safety data accumulating from patients dosed with anti-IL-13 drugs. Third, we exploit human mutation data as well as emerging large-scale genetic datasets (global exome data from 60,000 patients) to obtain information on any association of IL-13-inactivating genetic variants with disease states. In addition, we: (1) dissect the precise efficacy signals obtained with various drugs targeting IL-13 and/or IL-4, and (2) summarize unintended, but potentially beneficial effects of prolonged IL-13 inactivation on several functional systems.

Results: Prolonged repression of IL-13 in several thousand patients so far has not uncovered any non-redundant functions of IL-13 in immune defense. Furthermore, missense mutations in the key genes IL-13, IL-13Rα1, IL-13Rα2, IL-4, IL-4Rα are common, while no case reports have been published on any immune deficiency or increased risk of neoplastic disease associated with such mutations, suggesting that these genes do not harbor non-redundant roles in adult outbred humans. In terms of efficacy, data from clinically used drugs strongly suggest that targeting IL-13 only, as opposed to IL-13 and IL-4, may be effective in eczema while being more selective. Importantly, several lines of evidence suggest that inhibition of IL-13 may in fact harbor potentially beneficial effects on non-targeted systems, including glucose metabolism, hepatic fibrosis, and atherosclerosis, suggesting that respective outcomes should be systematically captured in patients dosed with IL-13 interfering drugs. Collectively, available evidence suggests that IL-13 may fulfill safety requirements required for the target of a therapeutic vaccine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date12 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Asthma
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Drug safety
  • IL-13
  • IL-4
  • VLP
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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