The Duke team, however, has created a vaccine adjuvant of nanoparticles that are capable of traveling from the point of injection to the lymph nodes where they act on many cell types of the immune system to spur the right reaction for a greatly increased immune response.
The researchers found that they could use this adjuvant in vaccinations of mice with the influenza A virus.
In levels of flu virus exposure that would be lethal in typical mice, the vaccinated mice were able to fight off the disease and had an increased survival rate, thanks to the effective immune response the particles stimulated.
The researchers also showed they could load the same type of particles with a different immune factor, IL-12, that directed a response toward a different set of lymphocytes. This is an important finding since certain types of infections require specialized responses to be overpowered by the body.
St. John said the flexibility of the synthetic particles and their ability to target certain lymph nodes represented a new avenue of personalized medical treatment personalized vaccines.
Senior author Soman Abraham, Ph.D., professor of pathology, immunology and molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke in Durham, N.C., and emerging infectious diseases at Duke-NUS, is cautiously optimistic that the mast-cell-inspired synthetic particles could make their way into human use soon.
"It should not be long because all the individual cytokines (immune system factors) and additional materials loaded into these particles are already FDA approved for use in humans," Abraham said. "There is a lot of interest in nanoparticle-based therapy, but we are basing our materials on our observation of mast cells in nature. This is an informed application to deliver the right material to the right
|Contact: Mary Jane Gore|
Duke University Medical Center