Nanoparticles can boost the body's response to vaccines

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Nanoparticles that have been fortified with immune fighting properties can help to boost the effect of vaccines, scientists are claiming. When injected...

Nanoparticles that have been fortified with immune fighting properties can help to boost the effect of vaccines, scientists are claiming.

When injected into the body at the same time as a vaccine the nanoparticles stimulate the lymph nodes, where the majority of immune system reactions originate from.

This then encourages the immune system to react quickly to infections or viruses as soon as they enter the body and therefore makes the vaccines more effective.

After successfully testing the new nanoparticles on mice, the researchers are hoping they will soon be ready for use with human vaccines.

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Scientists at the Duke University Medical Centre in America carried out the study and tested the effects of the nanoparticles alongside a vaccine for the influenza A virus.

The leader of the investigation, Dr Ashley St John, commented on the findings.

“Our strategy is unique because we have based our bioengineered particles on those naturally produced by mast cells, which effectively solve the same problem we are trying to solve of combating infection,” he said.

The bolster chemicals – otherwise known as adjuvants – which are currently added to vaccines to enhance their effectiveness do not travel to the lymph nodes.

Although the adjuvants do enhance immunity, it is thought this only occurs at the site of injection.

Commenting further on the findings, Dr Soman Abraham, who was involved in the research, told BBC News: “There is a lot of interest in nanoparticle-based therapy, but we are basing our materials on our observation of mast cells in nature.

“This is an informed application to deliver the right material to the right place in the body to get the most effective immune reaction.”

The results of the research have been published in the journal Nature Materials.

The Healthcare Global magazine is now available on the iPad. Click here to download it.

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