Nanoemulsion Vaccines Show Promise

Nanoemulsion vaccines developed at the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences at U-M are based on a mixture of soybean oil, alcohol, water and detergents emulsified into ultra-small particles smaller than 400 nanometers wide, or 1/200th the width of a human hair. These are combined with part or all of the disease-causing microbe to trigger the body’s immune response.

The surface tension of the nanoparticles disrupts membranes and destroys microbes but does not harm most human cells due to their location within body tissues. Nanoemulsion vaccines are highly effective at penetrating the mucous membranes in the nose and initiating strong and protective types of immune response, James Baker Jr., M.D., the institute’s director, says.

The smallpox results could lead to an effective human vaccine against smallpox that is safer than the present live-vaccinia virus vaccine because it would use nanoemulsion-killed vaccinia virus, says Baker.

Anna U. Bielinska, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, and others on Baker’s research team developed a killed-vaccinia virus nanoemulsion vaccine which they placed in the noses of mice to trigger an immune response. They found the vaccine produced both mucosal and antibody immunity, as well as Th1 cellular immunity, an important measure of protective immunity.

When the mice were exposed to live vaccinia virus to test the vaccine’s protective effect, all of them survived, while none of the unvaccinated control mice did. The researchers conclude that the nanoemulsion vaccinia vaccine offers protection equal to that of the existing vaccine, without the risk of using a live virus or the need for an inflammatory adjuvant such as alum hydroxide.

“We found that the nanoemulsion vaccine could inactivate and kill the virus and then subsequently induce immunity to the virus that includes cellular immunity, antibody immunity and mucosal immunity,” Baker says.; Source: University of Michigan Health System