SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Researchers at Yale use bacteria to create safe vaccines

Yale University researchers recently developed a method to create safer vaccines by using bacteria's own cellular mistakes, according to a study published on Tuesday in Nature Communications.

Vaccines using weakened but live pathogens to trigger immune responses can cause safety issues. Jorge Galan, the senior author of the paper, and his colleagues found that there are ways to create novel vaccines that combat disease but can be tolerated by the elderly, children and the immune-compromised who could be harmed by live vaccines, Yale News reports.

"We have managed to assemble a functional protein-injection machine within bacterial mini-cells, and the amazing thing is that it works," Galan said, according to Yale News.

Galan's team assembled the molecular machine the Salmonella bacterium uses to cause typhoid fever or food poisoning. The researchers modified the protein injection machine to trigger a protective immune response against multiple infectious diseases. Previously, it was necessary to use modified or virulence-attenuated bacteria that carry the machine for safety purposes.

The researchers' new trick exploits a mutation that causes bacteria to develop mini-cells when they divide improperly. The mini-cells have no DNA and as a result they are extremely safe and not pathogenic. Galan's team assembled the protein-injection machines within the mini-cells, which delivered antigens to mice to trigger an immune response without causing infection, Yale News reports.

Galan said the system could be used to fight cancer and a wide variety of other infectious diseases.

The National Institutes of Health funded the research, according to Yale News .

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National Institutes of Health

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