Researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), in collaboration with other institutions, have successfully highlighted the impact of gold nanoparticles on B lymphocytes.
These results, published in the journal ACS Nanoexternal link, should pave the way for more effective vaccines and therapies.
B-cells are a crucial part of the immune system and thus an attractive target for vaccine development. However, to fulfil their goal, vaccines must reach B cells quickly without being destroyed en route, UNIGE said in a statementexternal link on Friday.
This is where the use of nanoparticles can be interesting.
“Nanoparticles can form a protective vehicle for vaccines – or other drugs – to specifically deliver them where they can be most effective, while sparing other cells,” explained Carole Bourquin, professor at UNIGE’s Faculties of Medicine and Scienceexternal link, who co-led the study.
“This targeting also allows the use of a lower dose of immunostimulant while maintaining an effective immune response. It increases its efficacy while reducing side-effects, provided that the nanoparticles are harmless to all immune cells.”
Gold is an excellent candidate for nanomedicine because of its particular physico-chemical properties, the authors wrote. Well tolerated by the body and easily malleable, this metal has, for instance, the particularity of absorbing light and then releasing heat, a property that can be exploited in oncology.
“Gold nanoparticles can be used to target tumours. When exposed to a light source, the nanoparticles release heat and destroy neighbouring cancer cells. We could also attach a drug to the surface of the nanoparticles to be delivered to a specific location,” said UNIGE researcher Sandra Hočevar.
The gold nanoparticles developed by the team of researchers could make it possible to deliver existing drugs directly to B lymphocytes to reduce the necessary dosage and potential side effects. In fact, studies in patients are already being carried out for the treatment of brain tumours, the researchers said.