New method could deliver DNA-based vaccines in pill form
A microscopic corn-and-shrimp cocktail could eventually make DNA-based vaccinations and cancer-treating gene therapies an easier pill to swallow, according to new research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
In a recent study, the researchers demonstrated that nesting a specialized nanoparticle inside a microparticle could protect engineered genes or virus-derived DNA against the rigors of the stomach and ensure safe passage to the intestine. Once there, that synthetic DNA could potentially enter cells to trigger the production of either disease-fighting proteins or antibodies essential to building immunity, the study found.
The authors built the microparticle from a corn-based protein called zein (ZEEN’) and assembled its corresponding nanoparticle from chitosan (KY’-tuh-san), a derivative of the shells that house shrimp and other crustaceans. If further refined, its design could eventually help the pill join the syringe as a delivery system for DNA, the team said.
“The overall idea is to be able to produce vaccines that can be distributed globally,” said Deb Brown, associate professor of biological sciences and member of the Nebraska Center for Virology. “An oral route of administration could circumvent many of the barriers to global vaccination strategies.”
- Health Care