There have been significant recent advances in vaccine technology to treat diseases such as HIV, flu and even cancer. However, many of these new vaccines are limited in their in vivo activity as they degrade as soon as they are injected into the body.
D4 researchers are working on encapsulating the vaccines in nanoparticles. This offers a number of advantages over the conventional delivery of naked therapeutics:
- protecting the drug from degradation by the body, and thus ensuring the therapeutic is delivered in an active form
- limiting unintentional side effects by preventing premature release of the drug
- delivering multiple drugs together (such as an antigen and an adjuvant) to maximise the therapeutic response
- functionalising nanoparticles with molecules such as antibodies to target specific cells requiring the therapeutic
The next generation of targeted nanoparticles relies on us understanding the internalisation and processing of nanoparticles by cells. To deliver the potential benefits of nanoparticle therapy, D4 researchers are working to engineer nanoparticles to respond specifically to the cellular environments where they are therapeutically active.