Food Allergy

Nanoemulsion Vaccine for Food Allergy

Goal- To change the harmful allergic responses to specific foods toward a less harmful response that does not lead to anaphylaxis.

Food allergies are largely caused by the inappropriate activation of specific types of immune responses called TH2- and IgE-mediated immunity. TH2 and IgE-driven immune activation leads to the clinical manifestations of allergy and anaphylaxis. We have developed a nanoemulsion-based vaccine platform that activates a different type of immune response (TH1) that does not lead to allergic reactions.  Based on this, we hypothesized that by immunizing with a vaccine that consists of nanoemulsion mixed with a particular food antigen, such as egg or peanut protein, we could re-educate an immune system to have a more balanced immune response that would not activate factors that cause allergic reactions. We now have demonstrated in multiple different murine models that the nanoemulsion vaccines can shift immune responses away from TH2 and IgE responses towards more moderate and desirable responses characterized by predominantly TH1 and reduced TH2 and IgE. We are currently characterizing the mechanisms of action of the nanoemulsion vaccine and determining correlates of protection against allergic reactions and anaphylaxis.  Using this type of approach, we believe that by shifting allergic immune responses to a food allergen away from a TH2 response towards a TH1 response that we can prevent allergic reactions and anaphylaxis and that this will allow for long-term protection against food allergies.  Ultimately, our goal is to develop a vaccine protocol that can be tailored to all patients with food allergies.


Figure- Nanoemulsion adjuvants are nanoscale (200-700 nm in diameter) droplets composed of an oil core surrounded by surfactants and water.  Nanoemulsion can be mixed with any protein antigen or allergen to form a vaccine. When applied intranasally, the nanoemulsion is capable of permeating the nasal mucosa, where it loads vaccine antigen into immune-presenting cells. These cells then carry the antigen to areas of the body that initiate an immune response.