Biomaterials and Nanotechnology for Drug and Vaccine Development
B.S. University of California, Berkeley (Biomedical Engineering)
Ph.D. University of California, San Diego (Bioengineering)
The highly conserved matrix protein 2 ectodomain (M2e) of influenza viruses presents a compelling vaccine antigen candidate for stemming the pandemic threat of the mutation-prone pathogen, yet the low immunogenicity of the diminutive M2e peptide renders vaccine development challenging. A highly potent M2e nanoshell vaccine that confers broad and durable influenza protectivity under a single vaccination is shown. Prepared via asymmetric ionic stabilization for nanoscopic curvature formation, polymeric nanoshells co-encapsulating high densities of M2e peptides and stimulator of interferon genes (STING) agonists are prepared. Robust and long-lasting protectivity against heterotypic influenza viruses is achieved with a single administration of the M2e nanoshells in mice. Mechanistically, molecular adjuvancy by the STING agonist and nanoshell-mediated prolongation of M2e antigen exposure in the lymph node follicles synergistically contribute to the heightened anti-M2e humoral responses. STING agonist-triggered T cell helper functions and extended residence of M2e peptides in the follicular dendritic cell network provide a favorable microenvironment that induces Th1-biased antibody production against the diminutive antigen. These findings highlight a versatile nanoparticulate design that leverages innate immune pathways for enhancing the immunogenicity of weak immunogens. The single-shot nanovaccine further provides a translationally viable platform for pandemic preparedness.