Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Adjuvant Discovered!

At the University of Oregon, researchers discovered a new type of adjuvant based upon nanoparticles that are found in lecithin, a fatty substance most commonly found in egg yolk.

A few weeks ago, we learned that an adjuvant is something that increases the immune response when used in certain vaccines. Currently, only aluminum hydroxide is approved as an adjuvant in the United States. Unfortunately, the current form is much too weak and limited to be used within a broad spectrum to increase vaccine efficacy.

The lecithin compound was shown to produce an immune response six times stronger than that induced by the aluminum hydroxide adjuvant. In addition, less of the compound is needed for the body to respond. The small pathogen-like size of the particles causes the body to arm itself very readily to what it assumes to be an impending threat. Because it is a common food product, researchers believe it likely that it can be safely used within the body, which is rather meaningful given the very touchy policy the Food and Drug Administration has recently held towards the development of vaccines.

Researchers believe it possible that, should the use of lecithin be approved and its safety as an adjuvant be verified, it may be used as a universal carrier within all vaccines within the near future.


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