A vaccine is a biological cocktail composed of inactive microorganisms that are either attenuated or dead. It has been found that human immune system maintains a memory of disease causing agents to save the body from the next attack. But vaccines till date are known to treat only specific type of ailments.
To overcome this limitation, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working towards the development of customized vaccines that could work against a vast array of agents viz. Ebola, Zika and other disease outbreaks, and could be deployed faster than traditional vaccines. This nanoformulation lead to development of vaccine that can be prepared in a week’s time and helps in faster deployment. Till date researchers have tried and tested this vaccine in animal models such as mice and it has shown effective response towards against Ebola, H1N1 influenza and Toxoplasma gondii.
These vaccines consist of RNA strands that can be designed to code any viral, bacterial or parasitic proteins. This RNA is then delivered into cells where it is translated into proteins that instills effective immune response from pathogenic host. Besides infectious diseases, vaccines that can act on cancerous cells are also a research focus. RNA has always fascinated scientists as it can induce production of multiple copies of immune cells and by customizing the RNA sequences, the researchers can design vaccines that can produce nearly any protein of choice.
In the study conducted by Dr. Jasdave Chahal and Dr. Omar Khan, Dr Khan designed the RNA particles in which they packed the RNA vaccine in dendrimers that can be positively charged hence can form successful close association with negatively charged RNA molecules of about 150 nanometers. This size is similar to that of many viruses, hence enabling them to enter the cells by surface proteins that viruses use. When the particle enters into the system, the RNA swiftly translates into proteins that are released and stimulate the immune system. This further stimulated both T cell response and an antibody response of immune system.
These customized RNA vaccines can prove to be highly beneficial in treating influenza. As the most common flu vaccine manufacturing method involves growing the virus inside the chicken eggs, that takes months. This new approach of vaccine development is indeed a revolutionary one in the medical domain as it could reduce the manufacturing time dramatically after the disease outbreak. This vaccine can be safer alternative to DNA vaccines because unlike DNA, RNA doesn’t integrate in host genome and cause mutations.
Researchers are quite hopeful about this discovery and looking forward for further successful development in this vertical. If it goes well it can revolutionize the medical world with a new dawn of faster mode of immunization.
Insight by Anurag Mathur
DelveInsight Business Research