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A sugar-coated vaccine: antigens wrapped up in glucans

Sometimes a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down; or in this case, the vaccine. A new study released by mBio shows that combining β-(1-3)-D-glucans (long chains of the sugar glucose) with an antigen creates a potent vaccine platform that could eventually be put to clinical use.

An extract of yeast cell walls comprised mostly of β-(1-3)-D-glucans will create hollow, porous structures that are recognized and taken up by immune cells, and Huang et al. loaded these little sugar bombs with the model antigen ovalbumin, combining targeted antigen delivery and adjuvant activity in one neat package. The mock-up vaccine stimulated robust immune responses in mice, proving it as a promising new vaccine platform. Future work will address whether the β-(1-3)-D-glucans-coated antigens can confer long-lasting protection.

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