Immune system-stimulating nanoparticle could lead to more powerful vaccines

The potent new adjuvant could be used to help make vaccines against HIV and other infectious diseases.

Research, Biological engineering, Vaccines, Koch Institute, Ragon Institute, School of Engineering, National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Researchers designed a new nanoparticle adjuvant that may be more potent than others now in use. Studies in mice showed it significantly improved antibody production following vaccination against HIV, diphtheria and influenza. Image: MIT News, iStockphoto

A common strategy to make vaccines more powerful is to deliver them along with an adjuvant — a compound that stimulates the immune system to produce a stronger response.

Researchers from MIT, the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, and other institutions have now designed a new nanoparticle adjuvant that may be more potent than others now in use. Studies in mice showed that it significantly improved antibody production following vaccination against HIV, diphtheria, and influenza.

“We started looking at this particular formulation and found that it was incredibly potent, better than almost anything else we had tried,” says Darrell Irvine, the Underwood-Prescott Professor with appointments in MIT’s departments of Biological Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering; an associate director of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research; and a member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

The researchers now hope to incorporate the adjuvant into an HIV vaccine that is currently being tested in clinical trials, in hopes of improving its performance.

Irvine and Shane Crotty, a professor at the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, are the senior authors of the study, which appears today in Science Immunology. The lead authors of the paper are Murillo Silva, a former MIT postdoc, and Yu Kato, a staff scientist at the La Jolla Institute.

More powerful vaccines

Although the idea of using adjuvants to boost vaccine effectiveness has been around for decades, there are only a handful of FDA-approved vaccine adjuvants. One is aluminum hydroxide, an aluminum salt that induces inflammation, and another is an oil and water emulsion that is used in flu vaccines. A few years ago, the FDA approved an adjuvant based on saponin, a compound derived from the bark of the Chilean soapbark tree.

Saponin formulated in liposomes is now used as an adjuvant in the shingles vaccine, and saponins are also being used in a cage-like nanoparticle called an immunostimulatory complex (ISCOM) in a Covid-19 vaccine that is currently in clinical trials.

Researchers have shown that saponins promote inflammatory immune responses and stimulate antibody production, but how they do that is unclear. In the new study, the MIT and La Jolla team wanted to figure out how the adjuvant exerts its effects, and to see if they could make it more potent.

They designed a new type of adjuvant that is similar to the ISCOM adjuvant but also incorporates a molecule called MPLA, which is a toll-like receptor agonist. When these molecules bind to toll-like receptors on immune cells, they promote inflammation. The researchers call their new adjuvant SMNP (saponin/MPLA nanoparticles).

“We expected that this could be interesting because saponin and toll-like receptor agonists are both adjuvants that have been studied separately and shown to be very effective,” Irvine says.

The researchers tested the adjuvant by injecting it into mice along with a few different antigens, or fragments of viral proteins. These included two HIV antigens, as well as diphtheria and influenza antigens. They compared the adjuvant to several other approved adjuvants and found that the new saponin-based nanoparticle elicited a stronger antibody response than any of the others.

One of the HIV antigens that they used is an HIV envelope protein nanoparticle, which presents many copies of the gp120 antigen that is present on the HIV viral surface. This antigen recently completed initial testing in phase 1 clinical trials. Irvine and Crotty are part of the Consortium for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Development at the Scripps Research Institute, which ran that trial. The researchers now hope to develop a way to manufacture the new adjuvant at large scale so it can be tested along with an HIV envelope trimer in another clinical trial beginning next year.  Clinical trials that combine envelope trimers with the traditional vaccine adjuvant aluminum hydroxide are also underway.

“Aluminum hydroxide is safe but not particularly potent, so we hope that (the new adjuvant) would be an interesting alternative to elicit neutralizing antibody responses in people,” Irvine says.

Rapid flow

When vaccines are injected into the arm, they travel through lymph vessels to the lymph nodes, where they encounter and activate B cells. The research team found that the new adjuvant speeds up the flow of lymph to the nodes, helping the antigen to get there before it starts to break down. It does this in part by stimulating immune cells called mast cells, which previously were not known to be involved in vaccine responses.

“Getting to the lymph nodes quickly is useful because once you inject the antigen, it starts slowly breaking down. The sooner a B cell can see that antigen, the more likely it’s fully intact, so that B cells are targeting the structure as it will be present on the native virus,” Irvine says.

Additionally, once the vaccine reaches the lymph nodes, the adjuvant causes a layer of cells called macrophages, which act as a barrier, to die off quickly, making it easier for the antigen to get into the nodes.

Another way that the adjuvant helps boost immune responses is by activating inflammatory cytokines that drive a stronger response. The TLR agonist that the researchers included in the adjuvant is believed to amplify that cytokine response, but the exact mechanism for that is not known yet.

This kind of adjuvant could also be useful for any other kind of subunit vaccine, which consists of fragments of viral proteins or other molecules. In addition to their work on HIV vaccines, the researchers are also working on a potential Covid-19 vaccine, along with J. Christopher Love’s lab at the Koch Institute. The new adjuvant also appears to help stimulate T cell activity, which could make it useful as a component of cancer vaccines, which aim to stimulate the body’s own T cells to attack tumors.

The research was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Koch Institute’s Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, the U.S. Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT, the Koch Institute Support (core) Grant from the National Cancer Institute, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and the Ragon Institute.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

S. Korean scientists develop protein absorbent that collects rare earth elements steel slag

Steel slags are an industrial by-product. A Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology research team has developed a protein absorbent that can collect rare earth elements from steel slag, an ... Read more »

Scotland's first black professor caught up in racism row with fellow scholars

Sir Geoff Palmer of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh – Urquhart Media Scotland’s first black professor has rejected calls to quit a slavery review after he accused fellow academics of being part ... Read more »

Teenage boy kills sister and her friend before turning gun on himself in tragic double murder-suicide in Texas

Emotional family members on the scene after the discovery of the three bodies (© 2022 Houston Chronicle) A teenage boy murdered his sister and her friend before turning the gun ... Read more »

Shielders say lifting of England's Plan B restrictions ‘complete nightmare'

Photograph: Louis-Paul st-onge Louis/Alamy Among the 3.7 million clinically extremely vulnerable people in England, the removal of Covid restrictions has raised concerns The government has announced the lifting of all ... Read more »

Government ‘considering pause' to NHS Covid vaccine mandate

People queue at a Covid-19 vaccination centre at the Westfield in Stratford, east London (PA ) The government is considering pausing its plans to make coronavirus vaccination mandatory for NHS ... Read more »

Dive Into a Writhing Swarm of Sardines With This Astounding Penguin Footage

© Wildlife Conservation Society Sardines scatter wildly as a smooth penguin head zooms through their tight swirling mass within blue-green waters of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s footage. One of those ... Read more »

M&Ms characters evolving to be more inclusive: Green is 'much more than her boots'

The new M&Ms characters have received a fresh look for 2022. (Photo: Mars Wrigley) The shift in Hollywood and the world in general over the last few years toward more ... Read more »

Michael Gove's ‘warehouse tax' on online giants is blocked by Treasury

An Amazon warehouse in Hemel Hempstead. Michael Gove was looking to increase taxes on similar sites, but was reportedly blocked by Rishi Sunak A tax increase on warehouses used by ... Read more »

American Airlines suing The Points Guy over app that syncs frequent flyer data

© Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images American Airlines is suing The Points Guy American Airlines has filed a lawsuit against travel tips site The Points Guy, claiming the ... Read more »

Prince Andrew's former maid claims he kept Duchess of York's wedding dress in Buckingham Palace wardrobe after they split

Prince Andrew kept Sarah Ferguson‘s wedding dress in his wardrobe and her make-up on a bedside table after they split, his former maid has claimed. Read more »

Brian Laundrie admits killing Gabby Petito in ‘suicide note' found near his remains

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie (Instagram/GabsPetito) Brian Laundrie claimed responsibility for the murder of Gabby Petito’s death in a “suicide note” found near his remains, the FBI have revealed. It ... Read more »

The royal scandal that caused Sarah Ferguson's mid-air 'meltdown'

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York faced two photo scandals during her marriage to Prince Andrew. (Image via Getty Images) The early '90s were a difficult time for the Royal Family— ... Read more »

Hubble telescope spots a black hole fostering baby stars in a dwarf galaxy

© Provided by Space A Hubble Space Telescope image of the dwarf starburst galaxy Henize 2-10, shown in visible light. Black holes can not only rip stars apart, but they ... Read more »

How fast is Earth moving?

© Provided by Space A new time-lapse video of Earth combines 3,000 images from the DSCOVR satellite’s EPIC camera to show a year of Earth’s rotation, as seen from a ... Read more »

Incredible moment when dog chooses woman at the shelter

While this woman was looking for a dog to adopt at the shelter, this dog found her and looks like they are destined to be! Wow, what an amazing moment! ... Read more »

Boris Johnson's chief of staff cancels meeting amid rumours he faces the sack

Dan Rosenfield, Boris Johnson’s chief of staff – Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock Boris Johnson’s chief of staff unexpectedly cancelled a regular meeting with advisers on Friday, sparking speculation that Number ... Read more »

Ozzy Osbourne’s NFT project shared a scam link, and followers lost thousands of dollars

© Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge When a pop-cultural icon like Ozzy Osbourne announces an NFT collection, you can count on the project getting publicity. The launch of ... Read more »

Boris Johnson faces threat of legal action over blackmail claims

Boris Johnson is facing the threat of legal action over the alleged intimidation of Tory MPs who are demanding his head over the Partygate scandal. Lawyers from the Good Law ... Read more »

Star of the show! NASA shares stunning footage of powerful solar flare erupting from Earth's sun that was only classified as moderately strong

The flare was released at 1:01am ET and was classified as moderately strong It was classified as a  M5.5 class flare and seen in the northeastern part of the sunNASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the stunning event  Read more »

Pair of giant 26-foot-long sphinxes depicting King Tutankhamun's grandfather who ruled ancient Egypt more than 3,000 years ago are discovered in Luxor

A pair of limestone sphinxes were discovered at the temple of Amenhotep III, located in Luxor, Egypt Amenhotep III was the grandfather of the famous King Tutankhamun and ruled during the 14th centuryThe sphinxes show the  pharaoh wearing a mongoose-shaped headdress, a royal beard and a wide necklaceAfter a further analysis, the team found the script 'the beloved of Amun-Re' across one of the sphinx's chest  Read more »

Covid news - live: Hundreds of cases of new Omicron sub-variant found in England as hotspots revealed

LIVE – Updated at 19:47 A sub-variant of the Omicron strain of Covid-19 has been formally designated as a “variant under investigation” by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Some ... Read more »

Giovanni Pernice kisses Strictly partner Rose Ayling-Ellis in must-see video

Strictly Come Dancing stars Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice are continuing with their winning streak after they were crowned the winners on the first night of the live tour. MORE: ... Read more »

Researchers detect 1st merger between black holes with eccentric orbits

© Provided by Space An artist’s depiction of two black holes spiraling towards each other, about to collide. Scientists have for the first time confirmed the merger of two highly ... Read more »

Light sensors on wearables struggle with dark skin and obesity

© Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Apple Watch Light sensors used to track heart rate in wearable devices like the Apple Watch Series 5 and the Fitbit ... Read more »

Double trouble for Boris Johnson as he could face two leadership challenges in six months

Should the threshold of 54 letters be hit, allies of Boris Johnson have said they are confident that he could survive the subsequent confidence vote – Jack Hill/Pool Photo via ... Read more »

Exclusive: Taking turns on Wilf's slide and spilling wine on the office printer - new details of Downing Street party revealed

A protester wearing a crown and holding a packet of cheese, a bottle of wine and a ‘This Is Not A Party’ placard speaks to a police officer during the ... Read more »

The first demonstration of Wi-Fi 7 has left us breathless

© A_stockphoto / Shutterstock The next generation of Wi-Fi promises record speeds. Taiwanese manufacturer MediaTek announced that it has carried out the very first demonstration of Wi-Fi 7 technology. It ... Read more »

French physicists developed a bubble that didn't burst for more than a year

Researchers from the University of Lille said their sphere lasted for 465 days. Read more »

Physicists discover “secret sauce” behind exotic properties of a new quantum material

New work on superconducting kagome metal will aid design of other unusual quantum materials, with many potential applications. Read more »

Employees at Activision studio Raven Software formally organize union

© Image: Activision After five weeks of striking, the QA testers at Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, have formed one of the first unions in a AAA game ... Read more »

New York’s mayor is getting paid in Bitcoin. But can he pay the bills with it?

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP New York’s new mayor gets his first paycheck on Friday – and as part of his bid to keep the city “on ... Read more »

Google denies Facebook collusion claims in new court filing and blog post

© Illustration by Alex Castro Google denies colluding with Facebook in new court filing Google has filed a motion to dismiss the antitrust complaint filed last week, which alleges it ... Read more »

Computing for ocean environments

MIT ocean and mechanical engineers are using advances in scientific computing to address the ocean’s many challenges, and seize its opportunities. Read more »

Moment Tory minister is told about man so hungry he has to eat toothpaste

A government minister has said he is “appalled” after being confronted by a report of a man going to bed so hungry he eats toothpaste to stave off the pains. ... Read more »

Microsoft upgraded Windows Media Player—but you might still prefer one of these apps

© Windows / Unsplash Find the perfect program for loading up your movies and music. Microsoft never fully killed off the classic Windows Media Player, but in recent years it ... Read more »

Astronauts are losing 3 million red blood cells every second in space

© NASA Astronaut Tim Peake (right) completes a blood draw in space. The sample was taken as part of the MARROW experiment. Scientists have long known that life in space ... Read more »

NCAA's new trans athlete guidelines sow confusion amid Lia Thomas debate

The policy change follows weeks of criticism of the University of Pennsylvania swimmer, but one expert said it likely won’t affect her ability to compete. Read more »

Are hard-up households going to get a £500 payout?

Rishi Sunak. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) The government is believed to be considering new plans to help those facing significant financial hardship in the coming weeks. Experts warn that ... Read more »

Families forced to cancel half term holidays because of ‘restrictive' Covid pass rules

Children between the age of 12-15 are unable to prove their vaccine status on the NHS Covid app – JUSTIN TALLIS Families have been forced to cancel half term holidays ... Read more »

Vergecast: Microsoft to acquire Activision, Google building a headset, and the 5G battle with airlines

© Image: Blizzard Every Friday, The Verge publishes our flagship podcast, The Vergecast, where we discuss the week in tech news with the reporters and editors covering the biggest stories. ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic