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A Novel “Nano-Micro Composite” Approach to Vaccine Delivery

The Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Process Engineering (IPE) researchers have developed a novel vaccination delivery strategy called “nano-micro composite.” Using nano-micro composite multilevel structures, they have created a single-dose, dry powder, inhalable vaccine platform based on this concept.

Construction of single-dose, dry powder inhalation vaccine. Image Credit: MA Guanghui’s group

The vaccine has been successfully prepared in the laboratory and has demonstrated efficacy in preventing respiratory viral infection and transmission in animal models. This platform has a lot of potential to fight newly discovered and widespread infectious diseases in the future.

Nature published the study on December 13th 2023.

Researchers have come a long way in creating vaccinations against infectious respiratory diseases in recent years. However, since the majority of these vaccinations are given intramuscularly, the virus is neutralized by blood antibodies, and a humoral immune response is mostly triggered. Unfortunately, this strategy does not provide a strong immunological barrier and mucosal immune response in the respiratory system.

Additionally, adjuvants like aluminum adjuvants, which are frequently used in modern vaccinations, are inefficient at halting the fast evolution of viruses and are unable to elicit cellular immune responses. Furthermore, the two- or three-dose vaccination schedule affects the complete immunization rate, and the present liquid form of vaccines requires strict low-temperature storage conditions.

Innovative research ideas and multidisciplinary integration are required to solve these issues and provide safer and more effective respiratory infection vaccines.

To address these issues, a novel vaccination platform has been created by Prof. Wei Wei and Prof. Guanghui Ma of IPE in cross-disciplinary collaboration with Prof. Hengliang Wang and Prof. Li Zhu of the State Key Laboratory of Pathogen and Biosecurity.

Biodegradable microspheres and protein nanoparticles are combined in this platform. A broad-spectrum immune response could be elicited and the range of vaccination protection can be increased by the surface of these nanoparticles displaying many antigens concurrently. The versatility of antigen presentation also makes it possible for the rapid and easy production of other respiratory virus vaccines.

Furthermore, by enabling high-performance delivery, the platform's distinctive nano-micro composite structure promotes an effective immune response in the lungs. Antigen-presenting cells have the ability to effectively absorb the produced antigen nanoparticles. This dry powder vaccine significantly reduces shipping and storage expenses, making it appropriate for locations with inadequate refrigeration facilities and increasing vaccination rates.

Additionally, with only one inhalation, the vaccine’s continuous release of antigens produces long-lasting humoral, cellular, and mucosal protection. Later, in collaboration with Prof. Zhanlong He of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences’ Institute of Medical Biology, the researchers created a model that outlined the advantages of inhaled vaccination for preventing viral infection and transmission. This model was named airborne protection, close contact protection, and airborne transmission blocking.

The components of this nano-micro system used natural proteins and approved polymer materials, and the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine have been systematically studied in non-human primates, indicating its great potential for clinical translation.

Prof. Wei Wei, State Key Laboratory of Biochemical Engineering, Institute of Process Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Journal Reference:

Ye, T., et. al. (2023) Inhaled SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for single-dose dry powder aerosol immunization. Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06809-8.


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