Formulation and characterisation of an effective particulate delivery vehicle for the novel sub-unit vaccine antigen, Ag85B-ESAT-6

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Kirby, Daniel J.

This research focused on the formation of particulate delivery systems for the sub-unit fusion protein, Ag85B-ESAT-6, a promising tuberculosis (TB) vaccine candidate. Initial work concentrated on formulating and characterising, both physico-chemically and immunologically, cationic liposomes based on the potent adjuvant dimethyl dioctadecyl ammonium (DDA). These studies demonstrated that addition of the immunomodulatory trehalose dibehenate (TDB) enhanced the physical stability of the system whilst also adding further adjuvanticity. Indeed, this formulation was effective in stimulating both a cell mediated and humoural immune response. In order to investigate an alternative to the DDA-TDB system, microspheres based on poly(DL-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) incorporating the adjuvants DDA and TDB, either alone or in combination, were first optimised in terms of physico-chemical characteristics, followed by immunological analysis. The formulation incorporating PLGA and DDA emerged as the lead candidate, with promising protection data against TB. Subsequent optimisation of the lead microsphere formulation investigated the effect of several variables involved in the formulation process on physico-chemical and immunological characteristics of the particles produced. Further, freeze-drying studies were carried out with both sugar-based and amino acid-based cryoprotectants, in order to formulate a stable freexe-dried product. Finally, environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) was investigated as a potential alternative to conventional SEM for the morphological investigation of microsphere formulations. Results revealed that the DDA-TDB liposome system proved to be the most immunologically efficient delivery vehicle studied, with high levels of antibody and cytokine production, particularly gamma-interferon (IFN-ϒ), considered the key cytokine marker for anti-mycobacterial immunity. Of the microsphere systems investigated, PLGA in combination with DDA showed the most promise, with an ability to initiate a broad spectrum of cytokine production, as well as antigen specific spleen cell proliferation comparable to that of the DDA-TDB formulation.
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