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IMAGE: Immune cells that ingested spider silk nanoparticles (in green). The endosomes – the part of the cell in which the nanoparticles release the vaccine – appear in blue. view more 

Credit: © Laboratoire Bourquin – UNIGE

To fight cancer, researchers increasingly use vaccines that stimulate the immune system to identify and destroy tumour cells. However, the desired immune response is is not always guaranteed. In order to strengthen the efficacy of vaccines on the immune system – and in particular on T lymphocytes, specialized in the detection of cancer cells – researchers from the universities of Geneva (UNIGE), Freiburg (UNIFR), Munich, and Bayreuth, in collaboration with the German company AMSilk, have developed spider silk microcapsules capable of delivering the vaccine directly to the heart of immune cells. This process, published in the journal Biomaterials, could also be applied to preventive vaccines to protect against infectious diseases, and constitutes an important step towards vaccines that are stable, easy to use, and resistant to the most extreme storage conditions.

Our immune system is largely based on two types of cells: B lymphocytes, which produce the antibodies needed to defend against various infections, and T lymphocytes. In the case of cancer

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