The overarching purpose of this U19 Center grant application is to optimize a novel nanoparticle (NP) platform for the delivery of vaccines and vaccine adjuvants. The application is cross-disciplinary and requires expertise in material sciences, immunology, virology and animal models. We will test this platform for two viruses of high-medical need: influenza and Dengue virus. Once optimized, this platform should be adaptable for the delivery of vaccines against a variety of microbial pathogens. The NP technology platform is distinguished by the application of a soft lithography particle molding process called Particle Replication In Nonwetting Templates (PRINT) to produce the particles. This technology was developed by Dr. Joseph DeSimone at the University of North Carolina, who also founded the biotechnology company, Liquidia Technologies. A major advantage of PRINT is that the NPs produced are immunologically-inert and are of precise size, chemistry, porosity, flexibility and shape. Importantly, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) quality PRINT-NPs can be fabricated in large quantities by our industrial partner, Liquidia. A standard PRINT-NP has been used to deliver FDA-approved vaccines, with preliminary results demonstrating that this delivery system enhanced immunity compared to soluble vaccine and further, provided a dose-sparing effect. This application has three projects based at UNC, supported by four cores that include industry-academia partnerships. All three projects are highly inter-related and have the ultimate goal of enabling an eventual IND application for optimized vaccine/adjuvant biologics. The first project will optimize the PRINTNP chemistries to enhance biologic efficacy as a vaccine delivery system. The second project will focus on the co-delivery of PAMPs (Pathogen-associated Molecular Patterns) as adjuvants to stimulate anti-viral immunity in mice and appropriate larger animal models. The third project will use a novel humanized mouse system to assess human immune responses to NP-delivered vaccine and adjuvant. The three projects are highly integrated to discover the most optimal PRINT-NP platform needed for vaccine and adjuvant delivery for translation in humans.
The overarching purpose of this project is to deliver vaccines and adjuvants that can activate the innate and adaptive immune systems through a nano-technology platform that is precise in formulation and uniformed in properties. We will focus on vaccines for high medical need viral infections, which are of broad importance in public health. The end goal is to achieve an optimal nanoparticle-based vaccine platform.