Monday, June 8, 2015

Nanoengineering of vaccines using natural polysaccharides

Biotechnology advances: Currently, there are over 70 licensed vaccines, which prevent the pathogenesis of around 30 viruses and bacteria. Nevertheless, there are still important challenges in this area, which include the development of more active, non-invasive, and thermo-resistant vaccines. Important biotechnological advances have led to safer subunit antigens, such as proteins, peptides, and nucleic acids. However, their limited immunogenicity has demanded potent adjuvants that can strengthen the immune response. Particulate nanocarriers hold a high potential as adjuvants in vaccination. Due to their pathogen-like size and structure, they can enhance immune responses by mimicking the natural infection process.
Additionally, they can be tailored for non-invasive mucosal administration (needle-free vaccination), and control the delivery of the associated antigens to a specific location and for prolonged times, opening room for single-dose vaccination. Moreover, they allow co-association of immunostimulatory molecules to improve the overall adjuvant capacity. The natural and ubiquitous character of polysaccharides, together with their intrinsic immunomodulating properties, their biocompatibility, and biodegradability, justify their interest in the engineering of nanovaccines. In this review, we aim to provide an overview of the state-of-the-art regarding the application of nanotechnology in vaccine delivery, with a focus on the most recent advances in the development and application of polysaccharide-based antigen nanocarriers.