Cornell researchers have developed another class of biomaterial to treat an infectious disease. This biomaterial, nanovaccine has efficiently boosted the immunity in mice suffering from metabolic disorders associated with gut bacteria.
“This paper highlights how the microbiome can impact our engineered vaccines and how we can overcome these problems by developing advanced materials,” said an assistant professor of MAE at Sibley School, Ankur Singh.
“This work opens up a new, very exciting area of investigation into how biological factors and underlying disease conditions impact the performance of established nanovaccines,” added Singh. “More importantly, it shows how you can use these engineered materials and make them more workable across a wider population to overcome immunity to vaccines.”
The gut microbiome is one of the factors causing metabolic syndrome. The researchers are showing interest in the metabolic syndrome induced by microbiomes, because of the evidence that links both the metabolic disorders and microbiome to the immune system.
“Understanding how the microbiome affects future engineered vaccines is of utmost importance from a public health perspective,” said the co-author of the paper, Ilana Brito. “This research will open up new avenues for exploring how specific components of the microbiome alter immune responses. When engineering new vaccines, it’ll be important to design materials that are effective across a diversity of microbiome compositions.”
“We asked, are there ways to overcome this restricted response by engineering new nanomaterial vaccines?” wondered Singh. “Then we looked deeper into a new class of material that modulates the immune system, pyridine functionalized poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate), the potential of which we recently discovered.”
“This study is important because it shows that these nanogels can supply both antigen and adjuvant without the need for an extra immune booster, which likely contributes to their stronger immune activation and ability to overcome limitations imposed by diseases or altered microbiomes,” said Leifer. “Immunomodulatory therapies are a hot topic, and materials-based immunomodulation approaches are in their infancy. There is so much that can be done with them.”
“Nanomaterials can modulate the composition of the gut microbiome – I think that’s of tremendous importance to the entire field and could have implications in material design,” he explained. “Whether it’s a causative effect or the reason behind this is not very well understood – there are several hypotheses that remain to be tested, so this will be future work for us.”