(ORDO NEWS) — An international group of scientists was able to increase the effectiveness of vaccine preparations by a quarter by adding left-handed gold nanoparticles as adjuvants.
It is possible to increase the effectiveness of vaccines not only by modifying the active substance, but also by using an adjuvant. Scientists did just that by introducing gold nanoparticles into preparations.
The study did not include COVID-19 vaccines because it began long before the pandemic. The researchers used vaccines designed to target a specific strain of the influenza virus.
Although this is not the strain currently circulating in Brazil (it was the Brazilian scientists who led the study), in principle the results can be generalized to any vaccines after individual additional studies.
The reason is that left-sided chiral gold nanoparticles are not an active ingredient, but an adjuvant that increases the recipient’s immune response to the drug.
Chirality is a kind of asymmetry. The term comes from the ancient Greek word for hand, and the best example is precisely the difference between the left and right hand. If we put our right hand in front of the mirror, then its reflection will coincide with our left hand and vice versa.
The same principle applies to molecules. The left-handed gold molecules are a mirror image of the right-handed ones and cannot “turn” into each other by a simple rotation around their axis.
How nanoparticles increase the effectiveness of vaccines
The authors started with gold nanoparticles, which are symmetrical and devoid of chirality. First, scientists induced chirality in them by making them interact with the amino acid cysteine, and then enhanced the induced chirality by exposing them to polarized light using the amino acid phenylalanine.
Chirality is measured in “g-factors” on a scale of minus two (-2) to plus two (+2). The procedure used in the study allowed the scientists to obtain a g-factor of +0.4 and resulted in three nanoparticles: the original achiral gold, the right-handed enantiomer, and the left-handed enantiomer.
The researchers found that the enantiomers significantly increased the effectiveness of the vaccine. In particular, the left-handed enantiomer caused a 25.8% increase in efficiency over the right-handed enantiomer and an even greater increase over the achiral nanoparticle.
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