Inorganic adjuvants and immune modulators

A novel class of inorganic vaccine adjuvants and immune modulators that have highly predictable attributes and can be designed to produce specific immunological responses.

Precise modulation of immune responses

Immune responses are important in preventing infection and cancer, and there is therefore a strong interest in compounds which can boost immune responses.

Vaccines typically contain antigens from a pathogen or tumour, together with an adjuvant that boosts the immune response.

The standard adjuvant is alum which is chemically poorly defined, often varies from batch to batch, has a still poorly defined mechanism of action, and generally stimulates only one main type of immune response.

The invention

Oxford academics, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Ghent, have discovered that compounds known as layered double hydroxides (LDHs) can modulate immune responses and can be used as adjuvants.

LDHs are layered crystalline materials with precise structural properties that can be generated in almost infinite varieties by altering their basic chemical composition. LDHs can stimulate a much wider range of immune responses than Alum, and can be produced extremely cheaply in homogenous batches. Also, some LDH compounds are already safely used in human foodstuffs.

The specific chemical properties of LDHs control precise immunological activities, knowledge of these ‘chemical-immunology rules’ may allow the rapid design and screening of thousands of compounds to quickly generate lead candidates. Current research is now illuminating the mode of action and efficacy of selected effective LDHs in in vivo disease models.

Markets for this technology

This technology could be used to rapidly design new generation vaccine adjuvants with enhanced properties. The global vaccine market represents an attractive commercial opportunity with a market size of $34 billion in 2008, and an annual growth rate of 14%.

Competitive advantage

  • precisely alter immunogenic potential of LDHs by rational design

  • quick route to new lead adjuvant candidates

  • can stimulate different types of immunity, unlike alum

  • cheap production costs

  • precise knowledge of chemical composition for safety case

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