Researchers have collaborated to create a potential new vehicle for vaccine administration by modifying red blood cells to transport viral agents that can safely stimulate the immune system to defend the body against SARS-CoV-2.
The novel procedure, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE, is considered to be a first in the field of vaccination. SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins are lodged in red blood cell membranes, forming virus-like particles.
“We take red blood cells and remove everything from the inside. We then attach spike proteins to their outside to mimic a coronavirus,” explained co-author Isabella Passos Gastaldo from McMaster University, Canada.
The particles, shown to activate the immune system and produce antibodies in mice, are completely harmless.
“Current vaccine delivery methods often cause drastic immune system reactions and have short-lived responses,” said another researcher.
“Some of the vaccines that have been developed have shown side effects. This delivery platform opens new possibilities for vaccines and therapeutics,” the researcher added.
The researchers found cells can be loaded with a large dose of viral proteins, yet likely produce few side effects, making the new method more tolerable and effective than other vaccine options.
They claimed to have found a mechanism for inducing an immune response without the need of genetic material, and they claimed to be able to create these particles in a short amount of time.
Vaccines for variations or new viruses that may appear in the future can be developed swiftly using this approach.