In a breakthrough, scientists have designed a simple technique that makes it possible to quickly and easily develop new type of vaccines for diseases such as cancer, asthma, allergies and cardiovascular diseases.
“The major research breakthrough is that we have created a general and user-friendly platform for the development of a special type of effective and safe vaccines,” said Adam Sander from University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
“The highly effective method opens a new door for controlling diseases such as cancer, asthma, allergies and cardiovascular diseases by means of vaccines,” said Sander.
The simple and effective technique will pave the way for effective vaccines against not only infectious diseases but also cancer and other chronic diseases, researchers said.
The idea behind the new technique is to mimic the structure of a virus. When you have made the virus structure, it is used as a platform onto which are glued harmless parts of the disease which you want to vaccinate against, they said.
This creates an overall virus-like structure, which constitutes an important danger signal for the body. The immune system will therefore produce antibodies against the disease – a mechanism which has been difficult to activate by traditional vaccines, researchers said.
The technology is also so effective that it can trick the immune system into attacking the body’s own cells, which may be used in the treatment of a number of serious diseases, for example cancer, which are not caused by foreign organisms, they said.”We can see from our experiments that the method works. The method is generic, which means that we can glue, for example, different parts of pathogenic organisms onto the surface of the virus-like platform,” said Susan Thrane from University of Copenhagen.
“Previously, it was a major problem to activate the immune system and get an adequate response,” said Thrane. “We now have a unique technique that enables us to develop vaccines against diseases that we have so far been unable to fight,” she added.
The vaccine breakthrough also means that previous research in vaccines can get a new life. For many years, researchers have tried to find vaccines against, for example, malaria, cancer and allergies, but the vaccines have either been too ineffective or dangerous.
However, the new research provides the ‘structural’ building blocks that were needed to make the vaccines effective, researchers said.
This means that new vaccine research can proceed directly to the development and testing of new vaccines against, for example, breast cancer and allergies, they said.
“It will be a game changer for low-income countries, which can now make vaccines targeted at widespread diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria,” said Ali Salanti from University of Copenhagen.
The findings were published in the Journal of Nanobiotechnology.