Project Overview

NIRT: Modular Nanodevices for Creation of Smart, Adaptable Vaccine Delivery Vehicles

# 0609326
Tarek Fahmy (Principal Investigator)
Ira Mellman (Co-Principal Investigator)
William Saltzman (Co-Principal Investigator)
Michael Caplan (Co-Principal Investigator)

The proposed work, which will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team of established investigators (engineers, cell biologists, and immunologists), will lead to improvements in the state of the art in the preparation of a new generation of vaccine systems, and will provide the first systematic study of the interactions of polymer nanoparticles with both immune system cells such as dendritic cells and tissues in live animals. Our team has considerable expertise with each individual element of the proposed smart nanoparticle system; a dedicated effort in combining these elements will be the major goal of the proposal. The proposed research program will have broad impact because it will explore new methods for synthesis of modular nanoparticles, which may be useful in a wide variety of settings. By focusing on use of these new materials as vaccine vectors, the work will provide an improved understanding of the mechanisms of nanoparticle interaction with dendritic cells, and will therefore contribute understanding that can be applied to significant problems in world health. In addition, this work will lead to a better understanding and better design of materials needed to address important challenges in biology. Unlike approaches relying on the use of engineered recombinant antibodies, our strategy should produce a stable, easy to fabricate vaccine product that might be useful as an agent useful for the challenges posed by global health problems. This research team will approach an important technological problem in nanoscale science within the context of an educational and outreach program that seeks to train young scientists and engineers in a new area of interdisciplinary science that is of immediate societal relevance and public interest: vaccination against viral and biothreat agents. In addition, this novel nanoscale science project, which addresses a problem of biomedical significance, provides an opportunity to attract the attention of young people; the investigators will work with high school students and educators in the great New Haven area through well-established and successful outreach and education programs. This proposal addresses the following research and education theme listed in the program announcement: Biosystems at the Nanoscale.

Source: NSF