Nanotechnology to improve vaccines

Swedish bioengineers have developed a nanoparticle that can deliver vaccines at a fraction of the cost of those in use currently.

The technology uses particles only 25nm across, which once injected flow through the skin’s extracellular matrix towards the lymph nodes.

The nanoparticles accumulate in the lymph nodes and deliver a combination of vaccines to dendritic cells, the specialised cells involved in adaptive immunity.

The team have developed a chemical coating that mimics the surface chemistry of a bacterial cell wall. This means a generic immune response is triggered — particularly potent and without the risk of toxic side-effects.

Dr Melody Swartz, of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lucerne Laboratory for Mech­anobiology and Morph­ogenesis, said the low cost of the vaccines would have an impact on world public health.

Dr Swartz said she believed the vaccines would be available in the next five years. The team is also hoping to use the technique to target cancer cells.

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