Saint Louis, MO

Inflammation-free vaccine delivery to the elderly

George Vandervalk

ST LOUIS, MO - Researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis Jai Rudra and Meredith Jackrel plan to developed new vaccines with nanofibers. In order to eliminate the use of adjuvants, they plan to develop and test a novel nanofiber material.

Especially for elderly people, who have been disproportionally impacted by the virus, the SARS-CoV2 pandemic has highlighted the necessity for vaccines - an immune booster, however, can help boost a weakened immune system the result of aging and inflammation.

Using nanofibers containing peptides similar to amyloid-like peptides, Rudra aims to develop new vaccines without adjuvants. Nanofibers made of peptides do not need additional adjuvants, and they are also expected to promote autophagy, a type of cellular recycling that has shown promise as a potential vaccine target.

The delivery of vaccines to the elderly using these nanofibers results in strong antibody responses without local reactions.

Researchers should thoroughly test the safety and clearance mechanisms of the peptide nanofiber vaccines because of the similarity between these alkaline amyloids and those found in patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's.

Research in Jackrel's laboratory focuses on developing model systems to study amyloid proteins associated with disease and their toxicity. Both labs have already worked together to confirm that these nanofibers are not toxic and have gained insight into their mechanism of clearance.

Rudra's laboratory has begun work on animal systems after completing early work. Upon completion of toxicity testing, work will begin on testing conjugates to various vaccine targets, particularly those underpinning SARS CoV-2.

The National Institutes of Health awarded them a $433,125 grant to support their research.

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