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Scripps research scientists engineer new type of vaccination that provides instant immunity
Date:3/2/2009

The experiments, thus far performed only in mice, appear to overcome a major drawback of vaccinations the lag time of days, or even weeks, that it normally takes for immunity to build against a pathogen. This new method of vaccination could potentially be used to provide instantaneous protection against diseases caused by viruses and bacteria, cancers, and even virulent toxins.

The work is being published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the week of March 2, 2009.

The team, led by Scripps Professor Carlos Barbas, III, Ph.D., tested the vaccination method called covalent immunization on mice with either melanoma or colon cancer.

The scientists injected these mice with chemicals specifically designed to trigger a programmable and "universal" immune reaction. They developed other chemicals, "adapter" molecules," that recognized the specific cancer cells. Once injected into the animal, the adapter molecules self-assembled with the antibodies to create covalent antibody-adapter complexes.

"The antibodies in our vaccine are designed to circulate inertly until they receive instructions from tailor-made small molecules to become active against a specific target," Barbas says. "The advantage of this method is that it opens up the possibility of having antibodies primed and ready to go in the time it takes to receive an injection or swallow a pill. This would apply whether the target is a cancer cell, flu virus, or a toxin like anthrax that soldiers or even civilian populations might have to face during a bioterrorism attack."

Only those mice that received both the vaccine and the adapter compound generated an immediate immune attack on the cancer cells that led to significant inhibition of tumor growth. This is the first time that such a covalent vaccine has been successfully designed and tested typically, antibodies do not bind to chemicals in this coval
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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