Houston, USA (ISJ) – A team of scientists, led by an Indian, at the University of Texas developed a plant protein-based vaccine for treatment of all infectious diseases, including Malaria, AIDs and Ebola. The vaccine, which is still under clinical trial, could eventually be ‘a single vaccine adjuvant shot to treat multiple infectious diseases.’
“We are developing peptide-based vaccine adjuvants that boost the immune system against infectious diseases,” Dr. Rajagopal Appavu, a scientist at the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Texas Medical Branch and the lead author of the paper ‘Enhancing the Magnitude of Antibody Responses through Biomaterial Stereochemistry’ told Indian Science Journal. “All the peptides reported have toxicity under the acceptable limit.”
D-peptides or D-proteins are present in plant cells and therefore, have no adverse effect on human physiology. The source of D-peptides are Pasture Grass (Phalaris tuberosa), Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus), Beechnuts, Wheat (Triticum Asetivum) and Lentil (Ervum Lens).
Vaccines currently licensed (FDA approved) for human use are aluminum-based salts, or alum or alum-MPL (alum in combination with monophosphoryl lipid A). Many vaccines under development are chemically heterogeneous mixtures of plant or pathogen-derived products, formulations of mineral salts or emulsions, which have associated toxicity. On the other hand, the current experiments by the team would pave the way for D-peptide –based natural nano-fibre vaccine adjuvants that can be taken orally and is effective for a longer period of time.
“To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to design D-peptide vaccine adjuvants for infectious diseases,” said Dr. Rajagopal Appavu, who is currently with the MD Anderson Cancer Center-Houston, Texas.
Dr. Rajagopal said, self-assembling peptides composed of D-amino acids are strong immune adjuvants and can be used as a design tool to program adaptive immune responses for vaccine development.
These vaccines can be antibodies to identify and neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and virus, that causes infectious diseases, AIDs and Ebola, explained Dr. Rajagopal.
Image courtesy: Dr. Rajagopal Appavu