Health and Medicine Technology

E. Coli May Transport Next-Generation Vaccines

e coli capsules

University of Buffalo researchers have created an E. coli-based transport capsule that has been designed to help next generation vaccines do a more efficient and effective job than immunizations that are offered today.

The research holds the capability to fight pneumococcal disease, an infection that can lead to pneumonia, sepsis, ear infections and even meningitis. The inside of the capsule contains harmless strains of E. coli bacteria. Around the bacteria, the researchers wrapped a synthetic polymer called poly, which is similar to a chain link fence. The polymer, which is positively-charged, is combined with the negatively-charged bacteria cell wall, creating a sort of hybrid capsule.

Researchers have been experimenting with harmless strains of E. coli and the majority of E. coli strains are completely safe and play an important part in healthy human digestion processes and gut microbiome. The team has developed an E. coli-based transport capsule that is designed to help next generation vaccines to do a much more efficient and effective job than other immunizations being used today.

e-coli-capsule
The inside of the capsule contains harmless E. coli. Around it the scientists wrapped a synthetic polymer – called poly (beta amino ester). (Image credit: University at Buffalo)

The research has been described in full in the July 1st publication of Science Advances journal. The publication highlights the success of the capsule in the fight against pneumococcal disease. Blaine A Pfeifer, co-leading author of the study says that there are many strains of the bacteria, most of which are perfectly normal to be present in the human body and have a great potential to fight disease.

In order to test the capsule, researchers inserted a protein-based vaccine, also known as Abcombi, which is designed to fight pneumococcal disease. The results were very impressive when tested on mice. The capsule’s hybrid design provided both passive and active targeting of specific immune cells called antigen-presenting cells that trigger an immune response. The studies also concluded that both natural and multicomponent adjuvant properties which enhance the body’s immune system, and dual intercellular delivery mechanisms to direct a particular immune response. Capsule also provides simultaneous production and delivery of the components (antigens) required for a vaccine and strong vaccination protection capabilities against pneumococcal disease.

e-coli-hybrid
Electrostatic cooperation between a positively charged PBAE (D4A4-Man) and negatively charged E. coli bacteria result in the hybrid vector made of both components contributing to the delivery of antigenic goods within the E. coli foundation. (Image credits: Science Advances/Uni of Buffalo)

The capsule is luckily very inexpensive to create and flexible when it comes to usage. It could be used as a delivery device for therapies that target cancer, viral-based infectious disease as well as other illnesses.

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