To enhance the efficiency of vaccines, researchers in the laboratories of biochemical engineering at the Luleå University of Technolgy (LTU) have in co-operation with Karolinska Institute and Recopharma AB developed a strategy with the aim of directing vaccine components to critical parts of the immune system so that a more efficient immune response can be generated. The researchers have used a special type of protein produced in yeast. The method is now patented.
If the strategy works as intended it can impart great benefits for public health and also considerable positive effects for the poorest countries where people on the country side might have problems to receive multiple vaccinations which is commonly required for many vaccines. With an efficient vaccine enhancer one vaccination might be sufficient to get lifelong protection, says Magnus Sjöblom, researcher at LTU.
The production processes for the special mucin-like protein has been developed in the laboratories of biochemical engineering at LTU. Mucins are naturally found in our mucous membranes and are characterized by having numerous sugar chains attached to them. This protein, which has been produced by yeast at LTU, may target relevant parts of the immune system. Because of the numerous sugar chains of the proteins, vaccine components are more efficiently taken up by various immune cells which in turn can signal to other parts of the immune system on how to respond to the vaccine. The result is a vaccine which generates a stronger and broader effect.
This strategy, which has been developed by the research group, is now patented.
- We are the first group in the world to demonstrate these positive, strong and broad effects generated by the target seeking vaccine enhancer, says Professor Jan Holgersson, positioned at Karolinska Institute at the time.
The group will shortly publish an animal study based on the vaccine enhancer. The studies show that the yeast produced mucin-like vaccine enhancer has a good potential of improving the effect of vaccines.
- The animal study shows that our vaccine enhancer also could be used with vaccines intended for use against cancercells. The yeast produced mucin-like protein could therefore have a good potential of improving the effect of cancer vaccines, says Magnus Sjöblom.