Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Alternative Route

Developing vaccines better suited for pathogens that enter via mucosal tissue like the nasal passage

11 September 2022

Alternative Route

Many pathogens, including viruses like HIV, influenza and SARS-Cov-2, first invade our bodies through mucosal surfaces, lining our respiratory or urinogenital tracts. Strong immune responses there would help resist infection, so administering vaccines at relevant entry points, such as the nose, should be beneficial. Yet intranasal vaccines have had limited success, struggling to get past protective mucosal barriers. Researchers may have found a solution, by combining antigens, the active ingredients of vaccines, with a lipid tail that binds to albumin, a protein that naturally crosses mucosal membranes. Tests using antigens against SARS-Cov-2 or HIV, in both mice and rhesus macaques, found strong immune responses after intranasal vaccination with these complexes, known as amph-proteins (pictured, in red, in the nasal passages of a mouse). Antibodies were found in both nasal tissues and blood serum, suggesting local and general immunity, encouraging results that could pave the way for new approaches to vaccination.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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