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Can Nanotechnology Help Develop a Workable Dengue Virus Vaccine?

November 18, 2016
School of Medicine

Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine are working to develop a nanoparticle vaccine to protect against the four serotypes of dengue virus, which infects more than 350 million people across the globe each year.

Aravinda de Silva, professor of microbiology and immunology, and post-doctoral researcher Stefan Metz recently published the latest on their vaccine development efforts in PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease(s). 

The nanoparticle platform was produced with Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates (PRINT) technology. Joseph DeSimone, the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry and a joint professor in the Department of Pharmacology at UNC, developed PRINT, a nano-molding technique, in 2004.

Rather than using a killed or attenuated virus to develop a vaccine for dengue, de Silva’s lab is focusing on “expressing the E protein and attaching it to nanoparticles to induce good immune responses,” Metz said.

The nanoparticle vaccine platform can be safer to certain populations than vaccines that use either live or killed virus, he said.

One of the many complexities about developing a successful dengue vaccine, Metz explained, is that there are four serotypes of the virus, which means researchers need to develop a vaccine that provides immunity against all four serotypes.

“There are currently several vaccines in trial and development for dengue,” Metz said. “One vaccine has gone through all three clinical trial phases and has been licensed in some countries. Although these vaccines produce good antibody responses, a large part of the population still wasn’t protected from each of the serotypes.”

To continue reading, please visit the School of Medicine website.

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