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Scientists at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, in collaboration with researchers at University of Oslo, Norway, have demonstrated the most accurate distance between densely packed antigens in order to get the strongest bond to antibodies in the immune system. The study, which is published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, may be of significance to the development of vaccines and immunotherapy used in cancer.
Vaccines work by training the immune system with harmless mixtures of antigens (foreign substances that trigger a reaction in the immune system), from a virus, for example. When the body is then exposed to the virus, the immune system recognises the antigens that the virus carries and is able to effectively prevent an infection.
Today - Vaccines - Use - Something - Particle
Today, many new vaccines make use of something called "particle display," which means that the antigens are introduced into the body and presented to the immune system in the form of particles with lots of antigens densely packed on the surface. In some cases, particle display of antigens works better as a vaccine than simply providing free antigens; one example is the HPV vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer.
Antibodies, or immunoglobulins, perhaps the most important part of the body's defence against infection, bind antigens very effectively. The antibodies have a Y-shaped structure whereby each "arm" can bind an antigen. In this way, each antibody molecule can usually bind two antigen molecules.
Study - Researchers - Antigens - Ability - Antibody
In the current study, the researchers examined how closely and how far apart from each other the antigens can be packed without significantly affecting the ability of an antibody to bind both molecules simultaneously.
"We have for the first time been able to accurately measure the distances between antigens that result in the best simultaneous binding of both arms of different antibodies. Distances of approximately 16 nanometres provide the strongest bond," says Björn Högberg, professor at the Department...
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