Researchers trick bacteria to deliver a safer vaccine

March 13, 2013
Yale researchers trick bacteria to deliver a safer vaccine
This rendering is of the molecular machine that helps bacteria infect cells. Yale researchers have learned how to use it to trigger immune responses.

(Medical Xpress)—Vaccines that employ weakened but live pathogens to trigger immune responses have inherent safety issues but Yale researchers have developed a new trick to circumvent the problem—using bacteria's own cellular mistakes to deliver a safe vaccine.

The findings, published online March 12 in Nature Communications, suggest new ways to create novel vaccines that effectively combat disease but can be tolerated by children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised who might be harmed by live vaccines.

"We have managed to assemble a functional protein-injection machine within bacterial mini-cells, and the amazing thing is that it works," said Jorge Galan, senior author of the paper and the Lucille P. Markey Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis and chair of the Section of at Yale.

Galan's team has assembled the molecular machine used by Salmonella to cause food poisoning or . Scientists have been successful in modifying this protein injection machine to trigger a protective immune response against a variety of infectious diseases. However, it has been necessary to use modified or -attenuated bacteria that carry this machine.

The new trick exploits a mutation that causes bacteria to create "mini-cells" when they improperly divide. Mini-cells contain no DNA and, therefore, are not pathogenic and extremely safe. Galan's team was able to assemble the protein-injection machines within these , which when administered to mice, deliver antigens that trigger an immune response without causing an infection.

The system could be used to combat cancer as well as a wide variety of , Galan said.

Explore further: Researchers develop a vaccine prototype stronger than traditional vaccines

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Fighting the aging process at a cellular level

September 22, 2016

It was about 400 BC when Hippocrates astutely observed that gluttony and early death seemed to go hand in hand. Too much food appeared to 'extinguish' life in much the same way as putting too much wood on a fire smothers ...

Tattoo therapy could ease chronic disease

September 22, 2016

A temporary tattoo to help control a chronic disease might someday be possible, according to scientists at Baylor College of Medicine who tested antioxidant nanoparticles created at Rice University.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.