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Photosensitive nano vaccine developed for nasal inoculation

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Infectious virus defense strategy through induction of effective immune response possessed by inoculation of nanovaccine (NanoVac) developed by Professor Nagan’s research team at Catholic University of Korea.

[이데일리 이순용 기자] A research team led by Professor Na-gun of the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at the Catholic University of Korea and Professor Choong-seong Lee of Sunmoon University succeeded in developing a nano-vaccine that controls the level of immune activation with light after inoculation into the nose. The nanovaccine developed this time is expected to be applied not only to protection against influenza virus infection, but also to research on treatment for various diseases such as coronavirus and anticancer vaccines.

In order to prevent influenza virus, which causes many casualties every year, various methods have been tried to directly inoculate the nasal cavity (nose), which is the main route of infection. However, the nasal inoculation vaccine had problems in safety because it was difficult to deliver antigens due to the mucosal layer in the nose that blocks foreign substances, or it had to use a live virus.

Accordingly, Professor Nagan’s research team developed a vaccine in the form of a nanocomposite using a polymer in which an antigen protein and a photoresponder are conjugated. The nanovaccine developed this time is characterized by being able to stay in the nasal cavity for a long time by improving tissue permeability with light. In addition, it has the advantage of being safer because the degree of immune response can be controlled by the amount of time that the light is exposed according to the characteristics of the patient.

The nanovaccine developed by Professor Nagan’s research team has proven its effectiveness in protecting against influenza virus in animal experiments. After administration of the nanovaccine, the animal model exposed to light showed a 100% survival rate. As a result of the experiment, up to 8 times more immune cells were generated when the nanovaccine was administered and exposed to light than when only the antigen protein was administered, and the amount of antigen-specific antibodies increased by 80%.

This research was carried out with the support of the basic research project (middle-level research) promoted by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Research Foundation of Korea, and the research results were published in ‘Advanced Science’ on the 24th of October, an international academic journal.

Professor Nagun of the Department of Biomedical Chemical Engineering, Catholic University of Korea, who is in charge of the research, said, “The nanovaccine developed this time is a vaccine delivery platform technology that can be applied to various diseases. “We plan to carry out follow-up studies such as safety evaluation and efficacy evaluation studies for the actual commercialization of the nanovaccine,” he said.

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Q1. Why are nasal vaccines good for protection against infectious respiratory disease?

A. The respiratory tract, including the nasal passages, is the first place to be infected by many infectious agents that cause respiratory diseases. Nasal vaccines are of interest because they can treat infectious diseases in the nasal cavity, the first gateway to these infections. Most of the existing vaccines are administered as a single inoculation using an injection. The nasal inoculation vaccine is easy to use because it can be administered non-invasively due to the nature of the nasal cavity, which is relatively easy to inoculate.

Q2. Why does the new vaccine developed increase the residence time in the nasal cavity?

A. There is a mucosal layer in the nasal cavity. This mucosal layer acts as the first protective barrier to protect against external infectious agents such as microorganisms and viruses. However, in the case of intranasal vaccination, this nasal mucosal layer is pointed out as a major cause of reducing the effectiveness of the vaccine.

In this study, a cationic biocompatible polymer of influenza-derived antigenic protein was made into nanoparticles by electrostatic force, and a nanovaccine was developed based on this. The cationic biocompatible polymer studied by this research team is bound to a photoresponder that exhibits activity when exposed to light. When the prepared nanovaccine is administered to the nasal cavity, it can interact with the nasal epithelial cells due to the positive surface charge. make them stay for a long time. Furthermore, it was confirmed that, due to the photosensitivity of the nanovaccine, it could penetrate the nasal tissue and deliver antigens to immune cells better, and induce a photochemical immune response to increase the efficacy of the vaccine through the immune enhancing effect.

Q3. What is the biggest limitation of the nasal vaccination vaccine, and what efforts have been made to overcome it?

A. The biggest limitation of the nasal inoculation vaccine is that the effectiveness of the vaccine is reduced by the mucosal layer that acts as a barrier that blocks foreign substances. In this study, tissue permeability was improved by light so that it could stay in the nasal cavity for a long time, and a nano-vaccine capable of regulating immune activity was additionally prepared.

Q4. What do you think is the next step to advance the developed vaccine to the clinical trial stage?

A. First, an appropriate device for intranasal administration of the vaccine should be developed. The nanovaccine system developed in this study developed a method of controlling light to increase the efficacy of the vaccine. Therefore, it is thought that it is necessary to develop an optimized device that can effectively expose light to the body environment.

Q5. Will nasal inoculation through the developed vaccine system be effective for diseases other than respiratory diseases?

A. Of course it will work. By nasal administration of a nanovaccine that can control immune activity and effectively deliver antigenic proteins with the developed light, it is possible to induce not only local immunity but also overall immune activity in the body. These characteristics are expected to be applicable to other diseases including infectious respiratory diseases.

Q6. What do you think is the most important aspect of the newly developed vaccine system?

A. The vaccine developed in this study that can modulate immune activity with light and can be administered intranasally was announced for the first time. It has been found that the photosensitive nasal vaccine can effectively protect against influenza virus in animal experiments. The developed vaccine delivery system is a platform technology that can be applied to various diseases, and can be applied to antigens of various infectious agents showing pathogenicity and antigens specific to cancer cells. This vaccine delivery system can be expected to have a reliable protective effect against various infectious agents.

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