MIT tests new nanoparticle for vaccine delivery

While there's been some progress to make synthetic vaccines for HIV that avoid the dangers of using the virus itself to spur the body's defenses, delivering the synthetic vaccines with existing technology hasn't elicited the desired immune responses. MIT researchers might have found one way to overcome this delivery challenge---a new nanoparticle made with bundles of liposomes that might be able to deliver synthetic vaccines for HIV and other diseases safely and effectively, according to an MIT News Office release.

The nanoparticles were recently detailed in the Feb. 20 issue of the journal Nature Materials. MIT says that the nanoparticles are made by chemically fusing together liposomes into "concentric fatty spheres." The idea is that, following injection, the nanoparticles will remain intact in the blood stream long enough to make their way into cells where they can release the synthetic vaccines and trigger T cell responses.

Studies showed that the nanoparticles loaded with a vaccine protein from egg whites was able to provoke desired T cell activity in mice. In the past, liposomes alone have been too unstable in the blood stream to be effective in delivering certain vaccines, according to MIT.

Darrell Irvine, a member of the MIT's David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, is developing the nanoparticles and was an author of the Nature Materials paper. He and his colleagues have begun a mouse study with Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to test the use of the particles to deliver an experimental malaria vaccine. Irvine is also researching the use of the nanoparticles for carrying vaccines for HIV and cancer.

"There's definitely enough potential to be worth exploring it with more sophisticated and expensive experiments," Niren Murthy, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, told the MIT News Office.

- here's the MIT report