Nanoparticles may be step to long-lasting immunity
From Emory Health Sciences News
Virus-Mimicking Nanoparticles Can Stimulate Long Lasting Immunity
ATLANTA–Vaccine scientists say their “Holy Grail” is to stimulate immunity that lasts for a lifetime. Live viral vaccines such as the smallpox or yellow fever vaccines provide immune protection that lasts several decades, but despite their success, scientists have remained in the dark as to how they induce such long lasting immunity.
Scientists at the Emory Vaccine Center have designed tiny nanoparticles that resemble viruses in size and immunological composition and that induce lifelong immunity in mice. They designed the particles to mimic the immune-stimulating effects of one of the most successful vaccines ever developed – the yellow fever vaccine. The particles, made of biodegradable polymers, have components that activate two different parts of the innate immune system and can be used interchangeably with material from many different bacteria or viruses.
The results are described in this week’s issue of Nature.
“These results address a long-standing puzzle in vaccinology: how do successful vaccines induce long lasting immunity?” says senior author Bali Pulendran, PhD, Charles Howard Candler professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and a researcher at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
“These particles could provide an instant way to stretch scarce supplies when access to viral material is limited, such as pandemic flu or during an emerging infection. In addition, there are many diseases, such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and dengue, that still lack effective vaccines, where we anticipate that this type of immunity enhancer could play a role.”
The Emory Vaccine Center, established in 1996, is a GRA Center of Research Excellence and is directed by GRA Eminent Scholar Rafi Ahmed.