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Microneedle vaccine patch boosts flu protection through robust skin cell immune response
Date:3/5/2012

Recent research found that microneedle vaccine patches are more effective at delivering protection against influenza virus in mice than subcutaneous or intramuscular inoculation. A new, detailed analysis of the early immune responses by the Emory and Georgia Tech research team helps explain why the skin is such fertile ground for vaccination with these tiny, virtually painless microneedles.

The research was published in the January/February issue of the online journal mBio.

The skin, in contrast to the muscles, contains a rich network of antigen-presenting cells, which are immune signaling cells that are essential to initiating an immune response. The researchers found that microneedle skin immunization with inactivated influenza virus resulted in a local increase of cytokines important for recruitment of neutrophils, monocytes and dendritic cells at the site of immunization. All these cells play a role in activating a strong innate immune response against the virus.

Microneedle vaccination also may lead to prolonged depositing of antigen the viral molecules that are the targets of antibody responses. Such a prolonged antigen release could allow more efficient uptake by antigen-presenting cells. In addition, activated and matured dendritic cells carrying influenza antigen were found to migrate from the skin an important feature of activating the adaptive immune response.

The research was led by first author Maria del Pilar Martin, PhD and Richard W. Compans, PhD, Emory professor of microbiology and immunology. Other authors included William C. Weldon, Dimitrios G. Koutsonanos, Hamed Akbari, Ioanna Skountzou, and Joshy Jacob from Emory University and Vladimir G. Zarnitsyn and Mark R. Prausnitz from Georgia Tech.

"Our research reveals new details of the complex but efficient immune response to influenza virus provided by microneedle skin patches," says Compans. "Despite the success of vaccination against in
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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