Researchers writing in Nanotechnology have developed a novel vaccination method to combat the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) using tiny gold nanorods to mimic the virus. The nanorod constructs, which are just 21 nanometres wide and 57 nanometres long, are almost exactly the same shape and size as the RSV virus and are coated in the virus' fusion (F) protein.
The researchers at Vanderbilt University then tested the ability of the gold nanorods to deliver the F protein to the dendritic cells. Using the proliferation of T cells as a proxy for an immune response, the researchers found that the F protein-coated nanorods caused the T cells to proliferate significantly more than when non-coated nanorods and just F protein were used alone.
The researchers say this proves that the coated nanorods were not only capable of stimulating an immune response but they were also not toxic to human cells. "This study shows that we have developed methods for putting RSV F protein into exceptionally small particles and presenting it to immune cells in a format that physically mimics the virus. Furthermore, the particles themselves are not infectious,” said Professor James Crowe, lead author of the study. Professor Crowe says that the potential uses of the gold nanorods are not limited to RSV, stating that the platform could also be used to develop vaccines against not only viruses but larger microbes such as bacteria and fungi. The next step, says Crowe, is to test whether the vaccine works in vivo.
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