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Army researcher develops potential vaccine carrier
Date:4/22/2012

o high-molecular-weight, pharmaceutically acceptable surfactants (Span 80 and Tween 60). The fifth component, meanwhile, is an aluminum adjuvant-adsorbed protein used in vaccines to amplify the immune system's protective response to whatever antigen is being delivered.

Compared with the particles found in emulsions commonly used in creams and other substances applied topically, the particles in microemulsions are extremely tiny. And it's precisely this property that Muderhwa has harnessed and thinks deserves further study.

"If I were to make an emulsion (of oil and water), which is just a cream and white, that emulsion would separate within weeks," he said. "If you make a vaccine containing an emulsion, it's only (good for) probably a few months because the emulsion is not thermodynamically stable. The surface tension is too high, and the molecules are repelling one another until the emulsion fails." An everyday example of this would be the separation of salad dressing left in a refrigerator or pantry for a couple of days. But when vaccines separate, giving them a good shake doesn't do the trick, making the administration of them more difficult.

"You can make those particles in a cream smaller and smaller and smaller," he explained. "The way you do that is you have to lower the surface tension to near zero. You know if you take water and put it in the oil, they don't mix. So you have to add a compound that can bring them together. If you take egg yolk it has phospholipids, and these are emulsifiers that helps to bring the water and oil to combine."

Muderhwa used a series of emulsifiers, such as Span 80 and Tween 60, and glycerol as the co-emulsifier needed to lower the surface tension of the tiny water and oil particles. That was only the first hurdle to overcome. The real worry was how the then-four-part compound would react if he added a fifth, the adjuvant needed to amplify the immune system's response to an antigen.


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Contact: Angela Hopp
ahopp@asbmb.org
713-471-4541
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Source:Eurekalert  

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