Mice and rabbits produced antibodies against Malaria parasites after the animals were injected with synthetic nanoparticles displaying several copies of a Malaria peptide at their surface. This proves for the first time that artificial virus-like nanoparticles can be synthesized in the laboratory and can trigger immune responses against pathogens in animals. The Universities of Zürich and Basel, Switzerland, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Hamburg, Germany, and the University of Bristol, UK, were involved in this study.
Arin Ghasparian and his colleagues created spherical nanoparticles of 20 to 25 nm in diameter. These structures formed spontaneously in a solution of synthetic molecules consisting of both a peptide and a lipid part: several molecules congregated, forming a sphere with a lipid core and a peptide surface. When the researchers beforehand linked a small peptide from the Malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum to the lipopeptide, each resulting nanoparticle displayed 60 to 90 copies of that antigen fragment at its surface.
According to the authors, the synthetic nanoparticles induced a T-helper cell-dependent immune response in mice and rabbits. Only lipopeptides not forming stable nanoparticles were noneffective.
The researchers stress that no adjuvant was necessary to trigger the antibody formation. Nowadays vaccines often include adjuvants, agents that enhance the immune response of the animal or person being vaccinated.
- Engineered Synthetic Virus-Like Particles and Their Use in Vaccine Delivery,
Arin Ghasparian, Tina Riedel, Jimy Koomullil, Kerstin Moehle, Christian Gorba, Dmitri I. Svergun, Adam W. Perriman, Stephen Mann, Marco Tamborrini, Gerd Pluschke, John A. Robinson