A new vaccine manufacturing strategy has been developed by Chinese scientists which involves wrapping the live virus in a protective hydrogel to activate the body's immune response quickly, safely and effectively.
The threat of new viral outbreaks has heightened the need for ready-to-use vaccines that are safe and effective. But the whole-virus vaccine strategies such as inactivation tend to have reduced immunity, safety concerns and time-consuming manufacturing processes, hampering extensive application.
The researchers from Zhejiang University and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology demonstrated an experimental vaccine consisting of live wild-type Zika virus, a mosquito-borne single-stranded RNA virus.
They entrapped the virus in a hydrogel with Chitosan scaffolds that can prevent the escape of the viral particles via electrostatic interactions but allow the passage of immune cells.
The vaccine, injected under the skin in mice, is shown to enable the activation of innate immune responses, leading to effective humoral and cellular immunity and protecting the rodent against lethal Zika infection, according to the study published in the latest edition of Nature Biomedical Engineering.
This proof-of-concept study suggested that virulent virus strains can be directly transformed into vaccines by engineering virus-entrapped microenvironments.
It represented a promising strategy for protection against emerging infectious diseases, the researchers said.