Principal investigators on the project, which is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, are (from left) Lisa Wagar, Huw Davies, Anthony Gregory, Phil Felgner, Luis de la Maza, Li Liang and Egest Pone. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Sept. 26, 2022 – The University of California, Irvine has been awarded a five-year, $13.8 million contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to conduct detailed immune profiling of lipid nanoparticles to increase understanding of their role in enhancing vaccine protective responses and in causing side effects.

A UCI research team led by Philip Felgner, corresponding principal investigator and professor in residence of physiology & biophysics, will profile five LNP combination adjuvants – substances used to improve effectiveness – in vaccines used to fight influenza, chlamydia and Q fever. The project aims to discover how to maintain the powerful immune response while reducing side effects, which will benefit all vaccine modalities.

“The development of mRNA technology was made possible through the use of LNP and holds great promise in creating vaccines for influenza, chlamydia, Q fever and other infectious diseases. This field of science, fueled by the worldwide response to the COVID outbreak, foreshadows a revolution in gene therapy nanomedicine that is rapidly emerging,” said Felgner, who directs UCI’s Vaccine Research and Development Center. “As a mechanism to deliver drugs at specific sites, LNP are also being investigated for treating cancer and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, strokes and traumatic brain injury, as well as for correcting genetic disorders such as sickle cell anemia.”

The team will perform pathogen comparative studies in mice against influenza, chlamydia and Q fever. Profiles of adjuvant combinations that work through different mechanisms will evaluate the strength, quality, extent and durability of immune responses.

Other principal investigators include Huw Davies, Lisa Wagar, Anthony Gregory, Luis M. de la Maza, Li Liang and Egest Pone from the UCI School of Medicine.

This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases under award number 75N93022C00054.

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