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Nanotechnologies support nasal vaccine against hepatitis B

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A new non-injectable strategy for immunisation against hepatitis B has been developed by scientists from the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC), Universidade de Coimbra (UC) in collaboration with the University of Geneva. The pharmaceutical formula is a nasal vaccine.

Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) which affects the liver. It’s transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids. Acoording to the World Health Organization (WHO) data hepatitis B mortality is estimated at 780 000 deaths annually.

In developing countries where there is a lack of health professionals and financial resources to bear the costs of injectable vaccines, the nasal route immunisation is a cheaper and safer promising alternative. Nasal administration also eliminates health risks originated from injection, particularly infections caused by the reuse of syringes.

Olga Borges, coordinator of the research published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, explained that scientists developed a new composition for vaccine based on “plasmids”, molecules that in theory are  more resistant to temperature changes than the “antigen” (immune stimulators) of the vaccines currently marketed. These molecules are able to transmit genetic information (DNA) into the cells by activating the body’s defense mechanisms to fight the hepatitis B virus. In the process the therapeutic is carried on polymeric nanoparticles and released into the immune cells centre.

According to the CNC press release, Olga Borges emphasized the utility of Nanotechnologies in the field of vaccines, as the research allowed to highlight the working mechanisms of nanotechnology-based vaccine formulations and its advantages for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, such as STDs. “Nasal vaccine induce the production of antibodies at the level of the vaginal mucosa more effectively than injectable vaccines”, she explains.

The process of intranasal antibodies induction was conducted in mice, which delivered an effective immune response. The results show that nasal route offers a target tissue for drug delivery, namely on reproductive organs.

The research team started this work in 2003, focused on the development of nanocarrier delivery systems to produce non-injectable vaccines. In 2012 the project was one of the R&D projects funded by FCT in the domain of Bioengineering, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. 

More information:

Article “Intranasal Administration of Novel Chitosan Nanoparticle/DNA Complexes Induces Antibody Response to Hepatitis B Surface Antigen in Mice” | Molecular Pharmaceutics