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nanoComposix is Awarded NIAID Grant to Develop Mesoporous Nanoparticles for HIV Vaccine with Unprecedented Drug Delivery Control

July 08, 2019

SAN DIEGO, California – nanoComposix was awarded funding from the NIAID to design novel nanoparticles for development of an HIV vaccine with enhanced efficacy. The scientists will collaborate with Dr. Diamond at the City of Hope – Beckman Research Institute, who specializes in the study of infectious disease with a focus on herpesvirus, cytomegalovirus, and HIV.

Since the epidemic began nearly 40 years ago, AIDS-related illnesses have claimed more than 35 million lives around the world. Most of the vaccine development since that time has focused on designing antigens, rather than developing methods for controlled antigen delivery. The rapid mutation of the virus and integration into the host genome make HIV particularly challenging to protect against, and the most effective vaccine to date demonstrated only 31% efficacy.

The team at nanoComposix will focus on achieving controlled delivery to antigen presenting cells (APCs) by using mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) as a delivery vehicle for its HIV vaccine. MSNPs are non-toxic and can be engineered with a range of sizes, porosities and surface functionalizations. The dimensions of their pores and overall particle dimensions can be tuned by controlling the synthetic conditions during fabrication. Scientists at nanoComposix have exquisite control over these parameters, enabling the company to offer more than 50 different silica-based nanomaterials in its product catalogue, including a variety of mesoporous options.

“We’ve assembled an exceptional group of scientists to take on this challenge through a unique approach,” said Dr. Philippe Saint-Cricq-Riviere, Senior Scientist at nanoComposix. Dr. Diamond, Chair and Professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at City of Hope, has devoted many years to HIV-related research and therapy development. “This work combines the expertise of immunology experts and nanoparticle synthesis specialists to develop a new class of immunogen delivery vehicles,” Saint-Cricq-Riviere said. “An interdisciplinary team of skilled scientists and innovative thinkers is our best weapon for fighting HIV.”

MSNPs have spacious internal pores that allow them to load large quantities of immunogens inside for transport and controlled delivery. Modifying the internal pore surface chemistry enables selective loading of immunogenic messenger RNA and toll-like receptor (TLR) proteins into MSNP pores based on chemical recognition and compatibility. The external particle surfaces are easily functionalized to facilitate targeted delivery to APCs. Additionally, a polymer coating will serve as a gatekeeper to the nanoparticle pores, ensuring that molecular cargo is released only in the correct cellular compartment. In biological fluids, silica nanoparticles can be engineered to dissolve slowly, releasing internal cargo through controlled release over time. This innovative material benefits from precise spatial and temporal control, engineered to give the particles ample opportunity to reach their APC targets before gradual drug release begins. This strategy is designed to avoid many of the pitfalls faced by previous approaches to HIV vaccine development.

About nanoComposix

nanoComposix is a cGMP manufacturer with more than 15 years of experience fabricating precisely engineered and highly characterized nanoparticles. They strive to assist their customers through the process of bringing nanotechnology-enabled products to market. Their multidisciplinary technical teams provide rapid prototyping, characterization, integration, and scale-up solutions to accelerate R&D and commercialization for a wide variety of applications including biodiagnostics, topical therapeutics, nanomedicine, antimicrobial coatings, and color engineering.