Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
RNAi
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

A Safer Way to Vaccinate

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Polymer film that gradually releases DNA coding for viral proteins could offer a better alternative to traditional vaccines.

Vaccines usually consist of inactivated viruses that prompt the immune system to remember the invader and launch a strong defense if it later encounters the real thing. However, this approach can be too risky with certain viruses, including HIV.

In recent years, many scientists have been exploring DNA as a potential alternative vaccine. About 20 years ago, DNA coding for viral proteins was found to induce strong immune responses in rodents, but so far, tests in humans have failed to duplicate that success.

In a paper appearing in the Jan. 27 online issue of Nature Materials, MIT researchers describe a new type of vaccine-delivery film that holds promise for improving the effectiveness of DNA vaccines. If such vaccines could be successfully delivered to humans, they could overcome not only the safety risks of using viruses to vaccinate against diseases such as HIV, but they would also be more stable, making it possible to ship and store them at room temperature.

This type of vaccine delivery would also eliminate the need to inject vaccines by syringe, says Darrell Irvine, an MIT professor of biological engineering and materials science and engineering. “You just apply the patch for a few minutes, take it off and it leaves behind these thin polymer films embedded in the skin,” he says.

Irvine and Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, are the senior authors of the Nature Materials paper. Both are members of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. The lead author of the paper is Peter DeMuth, a graduate student in biological engineering.

Gradual vaccine delivery

Scientists have had some recent success delivering DNA vaccines to human patients using a technique called electroporation. This method requires first injecting the DNA under the skin, then using electrodes to create an electric field that opens small pores in the membranes of cells in the skin, allowing DNA to get inside. However, the process can be painful and give varying results, Irvine says.

“It's showing some promise but it's certainly not ideal and it's not something you could imagine in a global prophylactic vaccine setting, especially in resource-poor countries,” he says.

Irvine and Hammond took a different approach to delivering DNA to the skin, creating a patch made of many layers of polymers embedded with the DNA vaccine. These polymer films are implanted under the skin using microneedles that penetrate about half a millimeter into the skin — deep enough to deliver the DNA to immune cells in the epidermis, but not deep enough to cause pain in the nerve endings of the dermis.

Once under the skin, the films degrade as they come in contact with water, releasing the vaccine over days or weeks. As the film breaks apart, the DNA strands become tangled up with pieces of the polymer, which protect the DNA and help it get inside cells.

The researchers can control how much DNA gets delivered by tuning the number of polymer layers. They can also control the rate of delivery by altering how hydrophobic (water-fearing) the film is. DNA injected on its own is usually broken down very quickly, before the immune system can generate a memory response. When the DNA is released over time, the immune system has more time to interact with it, boosting the vaccine’s effectiveness.

The polymer film also includes an adjuvant — a molecule that helps to boost the immune response. In this case, the adjuvant consists of strands of RNA that resemble viral RNA, which provokes inflammation and recruits immune cells to the area.

Eliciting immune responses

In tests with mice, the researchers found that the immune response induced by the DNA-delivering film was as good as or better than that achieved with electroporation.

To test whether the vaccine might provoke a response in primates, the researchers applied a polymer film carrying DNA that codes for proteins from the simian form of HIV to macaque skin samples cultured in the lab. In skin treated with the film, DNA was easily detectable, while DNA injected alone was quickly broken down.

“The hope is that that's an indication that this will translate to large animals and hopefully humans,” Irvine says.

The researchers now plan to perform further tests in non-human primates before undertaking possible tests in humans. If successful, the vaccine-delivering patch could potentially be used to deliver vaccines for many different diseases, because the DNA sequence can be easily swapped out depending on the disease being targeted.

“If you're making a protein vaccine, every protein has its little quirks, and there are manufacturing issues that have to be solved to scale it up to humans. If you had a DNA platform, the DNA is going to behave the same no matter what antigen it’s encoding,” Irvine says.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Curing Disease by Repairing Faulty Genes
New delivery method boosts efficiency of CRISPR genome-editing system.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
No More Insulin Injections?
Encapsulated pancreatic cells offer possible new diabetes treatment.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Engineering Foe into Friend
Bose Grant awardee Jacquin Niles aims to repurpose the malaria parasite for drug delivery.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Supply Chain
Chemists discover how a single enzyme maintains a cell’s pool of DNA building blocks.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
How Cancer Cells Spread
Study offers new targets for drugs that may prevent cancer from spreading.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Delivering microRNAs for Cancer Treatment
Scientists exploit gene therapy to shrink tumors in mice with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
Using Ultrasound to Improve Drug Delivery
New approach could aid in treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Drug-Resistance Mechanism in Tumor Cells Unravelled
Targeting the RNA-binding protein that promotes resistance could lead to better cancer therapies.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Biologists Find Unexpected Role for Amyloid-Forming Protein
Yeast protein could offer clues to how Alzheimer’s plaques form in the brain.
Monday, September 28, 2015
Viruses Join Fight Against Harmful Bacteria
Engineered viruses could combat human disease and improve food safety.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Targeting DNA
Protein-based sensor could detect viral infection or kill cancer cells.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
A Metabolic Master Switch Underlying Human Obesity
Researchers find pathway that controls metabolism by prompting fat cells to store or burn fat.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Identifying a Key Growth Factor in Cell Proliferation
Researchers discover that aspartate is a limiter of cell proliferation.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Firms “Under-invest” in Long-Term Cancer Research
Tweaks to the R&D pipeline could create new drugs and greater social benefit.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Nanoparticles Can Clean Up Environmental Pollutants
Researchers have found that nanomaterials and UV light can “trap” chemicals for easy removal from soil and water.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Scientific News
Counting Cancer-busting Oxygen Molecules
Researchers from the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), an Australian Research Centre of Excellence, have shown that nanoparticles used in combination with X-rays, are a viable method for killing cancer cells deep within the living body.
Crowdfunding the Fight Against Cancer
From budding social causes to groundbreaking businesses to the next big band, crowdfunding has helped connect countless worthy projects with like-minded people willing to support their efforts, even in small ways. But could crowdfunding help fight cancer?
Cancer Cells Kill Off Healthy Neighbours
Cancer cells create space to grow by killing off surrounding healthy cells, according to UK researchers working with fruit flies.
Cancer Drug Target Visualized at Atomic Resolution
New study using cryo-electron microscopy shows how potential drugs could inhibit cancer.
Genetic Mechanism Behind Cancer-Causing Mutations
Researchers at Indiana University has identified a genetic mechanism that is likely to drive mutations that can lead to cancer.
Future of Medicine Could be Found in a Tiny Crystal Ball
A Drexel University materials scientist has discovered a way to grow a crystal ball in a lab. Not the kind that soothsayers use to predict the future, but a microscopic version that could be used to encapsulate medication in a way that would allow it to deliver its curative payload more effectively inside the body.
"Gene Fusion" Drives Childhood Brain Cancers
Study co-led by Penn scientists highlights potential targets for future cancer therapies.
Enzyme Links Age-Related Inflammation, Cancer
Researchers have shown that an enzyme key to regulating gene expression -- and also an oncogene when mutated -- is critical for the expression of numerous inflammatory compounds that have been implicated in age-related increases in cancer and tissue degeneration.
Viral Gene Editing System Corrects Genetic Liver Disease
Penn study has implications for developing safe therapies for an array of rare diseases via new gene cut-and-paste methods.
Improving Delivery of Poorly Soluble Drugs Using Nanoparticles
A technology that could forever change the delivery of drugs is undergoing evaluation by the Technology Evaluation Consortium™ (TEC). Developed by researchers at Northeastern University, the technology is capable of creating nanoparticle structures that could deliver drugs into the bloodstream orally – despite the fact that they are normally poorly soluble.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!