MIT engineers have developed a new type of easily customizable vaccine that can be manufactured in one week, allowing it to be rapidly deployed in response to disease outbreaks. So far, they have designed vaccines against Ebola, H1N1 influenza, and Toxoplasma gondii (a relative of the parasite that causes malaria), which were 100 percent effective in tests in mice.
The vaccine consists of strands of genetic material known as messenger RNA, which can be designed to code for any viral, bacterial, or parasitic protein.
Ref: Dendrimer-RNA nanoparticles generate protective immunity against lethal Ebola, H1N1 influenza, and Toxoplasma gondii challenges with a single dose. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS (4 July 2016) | DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1600299113
Vaccines have had broad medical impact, but existing vaccine technologies and production methods are limited in their ability to respond rapidly to evolving and emerging pathogens, or sudden outbreaks. Here, we develop a rapid-response, fully synthetic, single-dose, adjuvant-free dendrimer nanoparticle vaccine platform wherein antigens are encoded by encapsulated mRNA replicons. To our knowledge, this system is the first capable of generating protective immunity against a broad spectrum of lethal pathogen challenges, including H1N1 influenza, Toxoplasma gondii, and Ebola virus. The vaccine can be formed with multiple antigen-expressing replicons, and is capable of eliciting both CD8+ T-cell and antibody responses. The ability to generate viable, contaminant-free vaccines within days, to single or multiple antigens, may have broad utility for a range of diseases.