UCSD professor Liangfang Zhang has developed a “nanosponge vaccine” which has enabled the immune systems of mice to block the adverse effects of the alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA—both within the bloodstream and on the skin.
The nanosponges in the “toxoid vaccine” platform are bio-compatible particles made of a polymer core wrapped in a red-blood-cell membrane. Each nanosponge’s red-blood-cell membrane seizes and detains the Staphylococcus aureus toxin alpha-haemolysin without compromising the toxin’s structural integrity through heating or chemical processing. These toxin-studded nanosponges served as vaccines capable of triggering neutralizing antibodies and fighting off otherwise lethal doses of the toxin in mice.
The nanosponge vaccine approach could be used to create vaccines that protect against a wide range of toxins, including those produced by E. coli and H. pylori.