Covalent vaccination method offers instant protection

A team of researchers led by Scripps Professor Carlos Barbas, III, Ph.D., report a new method of vaccination can provide instant protection against a pathogen. Testing the concept in mice, scientists injected the animals with chemicals that offered a universal immune response and then injected them with "adapter" molecules that recognize specific cancer cells. This kind of covalent immunization, say the researchers, may overcome the lag time that exists between a vaccination and immunity from bacteria, viruses, toxins as well as cancers.

"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."

Three clinical trials are now under way by Pfizer to test the therapeutic effectiveness of this new type of therapy in cancer and diabetes. The antibodies in the antibody-adapter complex are monoclonal antibodies engineered to link themselves to adapter molecules.

- check out the Scripps release