New Polymer "PEI" Strengthens Vaccines Against HIV/Herpes/Flu
August 28, 2012 10:45 AM
It completely protected mice from a lethal dose of the flu virus
An international team of scientists has found a new compound that will give vaccines some extra
power against viruses
The research team, hailing from Oxford University as well as Sweden and the United States, has discovered a new adjuvant, which is added to vaccines in order to make them stronger against viruses. The new adjuvant is capable of boosting the
fight against HIV
, the flu and herpes.
The new adjuvant is a polymer called polyethyleneimine (PEI), and it is capable of stimulating immune response to better fight viruses. The vaccine is also made up of part of the virus it's fighting or a dead/disabled pathogen, which helps the vaccine to know what to attack.
Most vaccines today have an adjuvant, with the most popular being alum (an aluminum-based compound). However, alum is not the most potent, and vaccines for the flu need to be reformulated every year because it evolves to escape adjuvants. As for HIV and herpes, there are no effective vaccines for either yet.
That's where PEI comes in. It enhances the battle against all three, according to the research team. After giving mice models just one dose of the PEI-containing vaccine through a nasal droplet, they were protected from a lethal
dose of the flu
When the vaccine contained PEI with a protein from HIV and herpes, mice with either virus had a stronger immune system response than to any other adjuvant before.
"Gaining complete protection against flu from just one immunization is pretty unheard of, even in a study in mice," said Professor Quentin Sattentau of the Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University. "This gives us confidence that PEI has the potential to be a potent adjuvant for vaccines against viruses like flu or HIV, though there are many steps ahead if it is ever to be used in humans."
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