Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed a new type of nanoparticle, one that soon help deliver vaccines for infections such as malaria and HIV.
The particles (in red) consist of concentric fatty spheres capable of carrying synthetic versions of vaccine proteins. They provoke a strong antibody response (in green) in mice, which makes them useful for vaccination: the difficulty of deactivating live viruses and the inability of synthetic versions to elicit a strong enough immune response have been considerable obstacles to developing vaccines for HIV and malaria.
After three low-dose immunisations, up to 30 per cent of all the immune cells known as T cells in the mice tested were specific to the vaccine protein. The response is comparable to that produced by live virus vaccines, but without the associated safety concerns, says David Irvine, one of the study authors.