Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Development of an intradermal tuberculosis vaccine by combining dissolvable microneedle arrays and Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen-containing nanoparticles

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the pathogen causing tuberculosis (TB), is the leader among all pathogens responsible for the most human deaths today and it is considered as one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. There is an increasing occurrence of multidrug-resistant and even totally drug-resistant Mtb strains, which are virtually untreatable. The only available TB vaccine in use, the one-century-old Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, provides highly variable and inadequate efficacy against pulmonary TB in adults, and, being a live vaccine, cannot be used for immunization of immunocompromised individuals. Therefore, there is an urgent need for new, more effective and safer TB vaccines, that can also be administrated to patients with impaired immunity, and that also is effective against drug resistant Mtb strains. In this project a prototype of a new-generation TB vaccine will be developed. By using a nanoparticle-based subunit vaccine it will be possible to develop a vaccine that is safe for patients with a weakened immune system. By combining the vaccine antigens with adjuvants, the efficacy of immunization will be optimized. Furthermore, dissolvable microneedle arrays will be used to deliver the vaccine intradermally. Intradermal delivery is pain free and administration does not require highly trained medical personnel, which is desirable for immunization of people in lower resourced areas. The vaccine formulation will be tested in various systems to assess whether it induced the required protective immunity.

Mikolaj Szachniewicz
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