About this Research Topic
Vaccine development remains a high priority for many human infectious diseases as the only feasible long-term strategy for their eradication or improved control. Infections by several pathogens(HIV, HSV, RSV, Plasmodium Spp., Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Salmonella dysenteriae, Chikungunya, Dengue, Ebola and Hepatitis C)are but a few that either do not yet have a licensed vaccine or are in need of an additional or more effective vaccine. In addition to the challenges of finding a protective immunogen, vaccine development has historically been hampered by safety issues, when using either attenuated live organisms or vaccine adjuvants and delivery systems.
A promising approach for vaccine delivery that has made significant progress over the past two decades has been the use of synthetic and naturally-derived nanoparticles, as both an antigen delivery platform and an immunomodulator. Indeed, there are now a number of clinically approved nanoparticle-based therapeutics, albeit mostly for the treatment of cancer and of other non-communicable diseases. However, these advances have cleared the way for the potential use of nanoparticle-based vaccines for infectious disease. While some of these vaccines have reached clinical trials, there are many more currently in the pre-clinical stages of research and development. These include many types of particles such as the aforementioned synthetic and biologically-derived nanoparticles, in addition to less conventional nanoparticles such as bacterial spores, liposomes, virus-like particles and immunostimulating complexes.
The ability of nanoparticles to interact with immune tissues and cells and to induce humoral and cellular immune responses is well documented, as is their utility in both systemic and mucosal/topical applications. Nanoparticles can provide many advantages to the development of new vaccines such as: i) controlled modification of the immune profile (Th1-Th2), ii) increased antigen stability (time, temperature, proteolysis), iii) formulation flexibility allowing the incorporation of new immunostimulants and/or adjuvants, and iv) broader immune responses compared to conventional subunit/adjuvant vaccines.
However, there are still areas of improvement that need to be addressed before nanoparticle-based vaccine approaches reach the clinic. One of these is a better understanding of the mechanisms of nanoparticle vaccine immunogenicity and how these vaccines could be improved without the use of conventional, often prohibitory, adjuvants. Another area which also needs better understanding and improvement is how to more effectively engage the class I antigen presentation pathway following the endocytic/phagocytic uptake of these vaccines by antigen presenting cells. Finally, nanoparticle design and technology may need to be further simplified to allow an “off-the-shelf” approach of application and testing of appropriate nanoparticles with a wider range of antigens and under a broader range of experimental conditions.
This Research Topic will cover these and other research areas of nanoparticle vaccine delivery or development against infectious diseases with a view to deepening our understanding of the remaining milestones which are required to translate these vaccine approaches to human applications. We welcome the submission of Original Research, Review, Protocol and Opinion articles.
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