Vaccination against complex metazoan parasites has become a reality with the development and registration of recombinant protein-based vaccines against the cattle tick Boophilus microplus and the sheep cestode Taenia ovis. Progress towards the development of similar vaccines against gastrointestinal nematodes, primarily of ruminants, is outlined within a framework of defining the practical requirements for successful vaccination, antigen selection, recombinant protein production and antigen delivery, be it mucosal delivery or DNA vaccination. Antigen selection strategies include the fractionation of complex, but protective, parasite extracts, the use of antibody probes, evaluation of excretory-secretory components and gut-expressed hidden antigens as well as antigens targeted on the basis of function such as enzyme activity. The difficulties being encountered in recombinant protein production and their solution are discussed as are the requirements for successful antigen delivery. Recent technological developments such as the use of functional genomics to identify new vaccine candidates and DNA vaccination to present the selected antigen to the host immune system are discussed and are anticipated to have a profound effect on vaccine development in the future.
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