Improved vaccinations against sexually transmitted infections

In a research study published today when looking at the Nature Communications, researchers from King’s College London have shown how skin vaccination can generate protective CD8 T-cells which can be recruited into the genital tissues and might be used as a vaccination technique for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

One of the challenges in developing vaccines for STIs, such for instance HIV or herpes simplex virus, is understanding how to attract specialized immune cells, called CD8 T-cells, to take up residence within the main body where in actuality the virus first enters. These cells have to be in position, armed and ready to provide an immediate protective immune defense, instead of waiting for immune cells when you look at the blood to enter the tissues which take some time.

Before this study, it was thought that vaccines ideally must be delivered straight to your body surface (e.g., female genital tissue) where the infection might start, so that the immune system can generate these CD8 T-cells, travel back to the vaccination site and eliminate any future virus this is undoubtedly encountered. However, delivering vaccines right to the sensitive genital tissue is neither patient-friendly nor efficient.

Now the team from King’s have discovered that their vaccination strategy marshals a platoon of immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells (ILC1) and monocytes, when you look at the genital tissues to your workplace together and release chemicals (chemokines) to send out a call to the CD8 T-cells generated by the vaccine to troop to the genital tissue.

This research builds in the team’s earlier work to develop skin vaccination techniques using a dis-solvable micro-needle vaccine patch that when placed from the skin dissolves and releases the vaccine without requiring a hypodermic needle injection and generates immune responses.

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