September 25, 2022

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New Spherical nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 and cancer treatment

New Spherical nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 and cancer treatment


New Spherical nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 and cancer treatment.

A new form of vaccine – spherical nucleic acid vaccine, the first application of the COVID-19, the effect is amazing, has been used for cancer treatment. 

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic raging around the world, amazing progress has been made in the field of vaccine research and development, and there are more and more different types of vaccines developed based on different principles.


Recently, Chad Mirkin ‘s team from Northwestern University published a research paper titled: Sphericalnucleic acids as an infectious disease vaccine platform in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) [1] .


The study applied spherical nucleic acid (SNA) to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine . In animal tests, only one dose of spherical nucleic acid nanovaccine was enough to protect against new coronavirus infection by 100%.


More importantly, this spherical nucleic acid nanovaccine can not only be applied to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, but can also be extended to other infectious diseases, and even other new infectious diseases that may break out in the future.


New Spherical nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 and cancer treatment



What sets the spherical nucleic acid vaccine apart from other vaccines is its unique structural design, said first author Michelle Teplensky , Ph.D., of the study.

Previous vaccine development has focused more on the selection of immunogens or the activation ability of adjuvants, rather than how these components are perfectly presented to the immune system in structure.




Spherical nucleic acid vaccine

The study uses spherical nucleic acid (Sphericalnucleic acids, SNA) , which was developed by Professor Chad Mirkin , academician of the Third Academy of Sciences of the United States and foreign academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences .

It is a spherical nucleic acid nanoparticle formed by connecting nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) to the surface of nanoparticles. Efficient entry into the body and rapid stimulation of the immune system.


New Spherical nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 and cancer treatment


Spherical nucleic acid (SNA) has previously been tested in more than 60 cell types, and corresponding vaccines have been designed for a variety of diseases.

In March 2021, a research team from Northwestern University published a paper in the journal Science Translational Medicine [2] .


The research team developed an experimental spherical nucleic acid (SNA) drug, which was demonstrated in a clinical trial against lethal glioblastoma to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, suppress oncogene expression levels, and trigger tumor cell death.

The research results are significant because it is the first time that a nanomedicine penetrates the blood-brain barrier by intravenous infusion and alters the genetic mechanism of the tumor to cause tumor cell death.


New Spherical nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 and cancer treatment



In addition, spherical nucleic acid (SNA) vaccines for triple-negative breast cancer have been validated preclinically, and more spherical nucleic acid vaccines for other cancers are in development.




Development of spherical nucleic acid COVID-19 vaccine

The development of a vaccine usually takes years, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the field of vaccine development has made amazing progress.

The research team assessed whether spherical nucleic acids could be used to create an effective Covid-19 vaccine and expand its reach. It is reported that the research team completed the project in just 9 months.


The classic viral immune process requires viral antigens – which tell the immune system what virus to target – and adjuvants – which stimulate the immune system and enhance the immune effect of the antigen.

However, how to present these two components to immune cells in the proper ratio is still a very difficult problem.


Integrating antigens and adjuvants into a single structural support may be the key to solving this problem.

In this study, the research team encapsulated the SARS-CoV-2 RBD in a liposome core, and used TLR9 agonist CpG oligonucleotides that stimulate the immune system as immune adjuvants attached around the liposome core.


New Spherical nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 and cancer treatmentStructural pattern diagram of spherical nucleic acid COVID-19 vaccine



The research team injected the uniquely designed spherical nucleic acid Covid-19 vaccine into mice subcutaneously to elicit an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and then monitored antibody production for several weeks after injection.

Two weeks after injection, mice vaccinated with the spherical nucleic acid vaccine produced higher antibody titers than mice vaccinated with a simple saline mixture of the same composition, and even surpassed other formulations containing commercial adjuvants (which have been used with zoster, hepatitis B and influenza vaccine formulations) 14 times.


Spherical nucleic acid COVID-19 vaccine induces the production of higher titers of neutralizing antibodies



Not only that, the research team also sent their vaccine to Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in the United States for testing of new coronavirus in live animals.

The double-blind study results showed that under high doses of new coronavirus infection, the spherical nucleic acid vaccine was injected.

100% of the mice survived to the end of the trial and did not develop lung damage caused by Covid-19 . In contrast, all mice that were not vaccinated with the spherical nucleic acid died during the 14-day trial.


These animal test data confirm the great potential of spherical nucleic acid platforms in the field of COVID-19s and infectious diseases. In addition, spherical nucleic acid vaccines also have the advantages of less side effects and can be stored in ordinary refrigerators, which greatly reduces production, transportation and distribution costs.


SNA vaccine protected 100% survival of mice in experimental group


Professor Chad Mirkin said the study confirmed the importance of vaccine structure, which can have a profound impact on the efficacy of vaccines. In fact, this is also a brand new attempt.

Although the team has previously demonstrated that spherical nucleic acid vaccines can treat and prevent cancer, it is the first application for infectious diseases such as COVID-19 pneumonia.


Prof. Chad Mirkin



Prevention of Emerging Infectious Diseases

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected hundreds of millions of people and killed millions of people around the world, and has had a profound impact on human society, also highlights the horror of emerging infectious diseases.

Therefore, how to effectively prevent emerging infectious diseases has become a difficult problem that human beings must face.


Today, this research provides an answer to that question to some extent. Dr. Max Distler , co-first author of the study , said that while these experimental results are impressive, the team’s goal is not to compete with existing COVID-19 vaccines, but to prepare for the next infectious disease that requires a highly structured vaccine prepare for. The spherical nucleic acid platform could even be used to treat complex diseases like AIDS.


Professor Chad Mirkin said thatthe modularity of the spherical nucleic acid vaccine research and development platform means that once a new infectious disease occurs, it may be possible to quickly respond to future viruses by simply replacing the antigen or adjuvant.

Therefore, spherical nucleic acid is not only a drug or a vaccine, but a research and development platform for various diseases and infectious diseases, which can help humans overcome intractable diseases such as cancer and emerging infectious diseases.








Reference :

New Spherical nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 and cancer treatment

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