Many viruses and bacteria infect humans through mucosal surfaces, such as those in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract and reproductive tract. To help fight these pathogens, scientists are working on vaccines that can establish a front line of defense at mucosal surfaces. Vaccines can be delivered to the lungs via an aerosol spray, but the lungs often clear away the vaccine before it can provoke an immune response.
To overcome that, MIT engineers have developed a new type of nanoparticle that protects the vaccine long enough to generate a strong immune response — not only in the lungs, but also in mucosal surfaces far from the vaccination site, such as the gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts. Darrell Irvine (the leader of the research team) and colleagues describe the nanoparticle vaccine in the Sept. 25 issue of Science Translational Medicine. Lead authors of the paper are recent PhD recipient Adrienne Li and former MIT postdoc James Moon. Read the rest of the article here.