Traditional vaccines deliver dead or inactive viruses in order to elicit immunity. Today, researchers at Vanderbilt University report a new approach to activating dendritic cell response—they’ve developed a new vaccine that used tiny gold particles called nanorods to mimic the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and deliver specific proteins to the immune cells.
Writing in Nanotechnology, Vanderbilt’s James Crowe, M.D., and his colleagues report their generation of gold nanorods—21 nm wide, 57 nm long—which they coated with RSV F proteins. The resulting structures closely matched the shape and size as the virus itself, they report.
Dr. Crowe and his colleagues then sought to evaluate the ability of these gold nanorods to effectively deliver RSV F proteins to dendritic cells derived from adult blood samples, analyzing T cell proliferation as a proxy for immune reponse. The protein-coated nanorods, they found, elicited a greater proliferation of T cells than either non-coated nanorods or the F protein alone.
“A vaccine for RSV, which is the major cause of viral pneumonia in children, is sorely needed. This study shows that we have developed methods for putting RSV F protein into exceptionally small particles and presenting it to immune cells in a format that physically mimics the virus. Furthermore, the particles themselves are not infectious,” Dr. Crowe said in a statement. He added that this gold nanorod-based approach could be useful for other vaccines, beyond the one his team created targeting RSV.
“This platform could be used to develop experimental vaccines for virtually any virus, and in fact other larger microbes such as bacteria and fungi,” Dr. Crowe said, adding that “the next steps … would be to test whether or not the vaccines work in vivo.”
“Gold nanorod vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus” was published in Nanotechnology June 25.