Sarah: As readers of the Nanovic website, you may be aware of our role in developing nanotechnology-enabled transdermal patches for vaccination. But have you ever wondered about what sort of research and development needs to go into developing a new vaccine? Of course the material to be injected should undergo rigorous testing from a health and safety point of view. But what about the actual mechanism – how do we know that the stuff being injected actually (1) gets to where we want it to go (i.e. is delivered through and released into the skin), (2) reaches the appropriate cellular components of our immune system, and (3) results in the kind of immune response that we want (i.e. leads to protective immunity). Several presentations at ICONN2008 by researchers from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), University of Queensland focussed on these exact issues with respect to nanopatches. Nanopatches developed by the AIBN have a micro-nanoprojection array structure which can be successfully coated with biomolecules such as DNA and proteins. When applied to the skin, the patch design results in accurate, efficient and safe delivery of biomolecules to skin Langerhans cells (immune activating cells). Associated immunological analysis shows that while the patches don’t create an overt and uncomfortable inflammatory reaction in the user, at the microscopic level immune changes are occurring. Sounds like highly promising vaccine technology to me. The AIBN research group is led by Professor Mark Kendall.
Originally posted on Blog@NanoVic for Nanotechnology Victoria.