an image of the inflammatory dendritic cells that come in as a consequence of inflammation to mount an immune response
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, July 22, 2021

Full article issued by the Doherty Institute.

ARC Future Fellow Dr Linda Wakim, and her team at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity – which is a joint-venture partnership between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital – have looked at the important factors for generating good intranasal vaccines. In addition to avoiding the need for a jab, an effective intranasal vaccine gains access to a key part of the immune system to fight off influenza.

'When immunised with an intranasal vaccine, the vaccine ends up in the adenoids and tonsils. This is the site where the vaccine immune response is mounted but until now, nobody really knew what happens to the vaccine once it gets there,' explains Dr Wakim.

'We profiled the cells in the area to work out which we should target our vaccine to, and found it wasn’t any of the cells that reside there, but cells called inflammatory dendritic cells that come in as a consequence of inflammation to mount an immune response.'

Dr Wakim used this information to develop a novel intranasal immunisation strategy that preferentially delivered the vaccine to these dendritic cells, often referred to as the ‘sentinel guards’ of our immune system.

'While we already have data to show that this vaccine can be used to generate protective immunity against the flu, we are optimistic that our base formulation can be adapted to provide protection against other respiratory pathogens,' says Dr Wakim.

The research team immunised mice with their vaccine platform, which incorporated influenza antigens and were able to block the development of viral pneumonia. 

'This is incredibly encouraging, and we have a provisional patent on the vaccine platform – we are moving it through the pipeline and are hopeful that this vaccine will be able to provide long-term protection against the flu,' says Dr Wakim

Photo credit: 

An image of the inflammatory dendritic cells that come in as a consequence of inflammation to mount an immune response. Credit: Doherty Institute.