All Publications

  • Modulation of injectable hydrogel properties for slow co-delivery of influenza subunit vaccine components enhance the potency of humoral immunity. Journal of biomedical materials research. Part A Saouaf, O. M., Roth, G. A., Ou, B. S., Smith, A. A., Yu, A. C., Gale, E. C., Grosskopf, A. K., Picece, V. C., Appel, E. A. 2021


    Vaccines are critical for combating infectious diseases across the globe. Influenza, for example, kills roughly 500,000 people annually worldwide, despite annual vaccination campaigns. Efficacious vaccines must elicit a robust and durable antibody response, and poor efficacy often arises from inappropriate temporal control over antigen and adjuvant presentation to the immune system. In this work, we sought to exploit the immune system's natural response to extended pathogen exposure during infection by designing an easily administered slow-delivery influenza vaccine platform. We utilized an injectable and self-healing polymer-nanoparticle (PNP) hydrogel platform to prolong the co-delivery of vaccine components to the immune system. We demonstrated that these hydrogels exhibit unique dynamic physical characteristics whereby physicochemically distinct influenza hemagglutinin antigen and a toll-like receptor 7/8 agonist adjuvant could be co-delivered over prolonged timeframes that were tunable through simple alteration of the gel formulation. We show a relationship between hydrogel physical properties and the resulting immune response to immunization. When administered in mice, hydrogel-based vaccines demonstrated enhancements in the magnitude and duration of humoral immune responses compared to alum, a widely used clinical adjuvant system. We found stiffer hydrogel formulations exhibited slower release and resulted in the greatest improvements to the antibody response while also enabling significant adjuvant dose sparing. In summary, this work introduces a simple and effective vaccine delivery platform that increases the potency and durability of influenza subunit vaccines.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jbm.a.37203

    View details for PubMedID 33955657

  • Prolonged Codelivery of Hemagglutinin and a TLR7/8 Agonist in a Supramolecular Polymer-Nanoparticle Hydrogel Enhances Potency and Breadth of Influenza Vaccination. ACS biomaterials science & engineering Roth, G. A., Saouaf, O. M., Smith, A. A., Gale, E. C., Hernandez, M. A., Idoyaga, J., Appel, E. A. 2021


    The sustained release of vaccine cargo has been shown to improve humoral immune responses to challenging pathogens such as influenza. Extended codelivery of antigen and adjuvant prolongs germinal center reactions, thus improving antibody affinity maturation and the ability to neutralize the target pathogen. Here, we develop an injectable, physically cross-linked polymer-nanoparticle (PNP) hydrogel system to prolong the local codelivery of hemagglutinin and a toll-like receptor 7/8 agonist (TLR7/8a) adjuvant. By tethering the TLR7/8a to a NP motif within the hydrogels (TLR7/8a-NP), the dynamic mesh of the PNP hydrogels enables codiffusion of the adjuvant and protein antigen (hemagglutinin), therefore enabling sustained codelivery of these two physicochemically distinct molecules. We show that subcutaneous delivery of PNP hydrogels carrying hemagglutinin and TLR7/8a-NP in mice improves the magnitude and duration of antibody titers in response to a single injection vaccination compared to clinically used adjuvants. Furthermore, the PNP gel-based slow delivery of influenza vaccines led to increased breadth of antibody responses against future influenza variants, including a future pandemic variant, compared to clinical adjuvants. In summary, this work introduces a simple and effective vaccine delivery platform that increases the potency and durability of influenza subunit vaccines.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.0c01496

    View details for PubMedID 33404236

  • Quantifying residue-specific conformational dynamics of a highly reactive 29-mer peptide. Scientific reports Lindemann, W. R., Evans, E. D., Mijalis, A. J., Saouaf, O. M., Pentelute, B. L., Ortony, J. H. 2020; 10 (1): 2597


    Understanding structural transitions within macromolecules remains an important challenge in biochemistry, with important implications for drug development and medicine. Insight into molecular behavior often requires residue-specific dynamics measurement at micromolar concentrations. We studied MP01-Gen4, a library peptide selected to rapidly undergo bioconjugation, by using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) to measure conformational dynamics. We mapped the dynamics of MP01-Gen4 with residue-specificity and identified the regions involved in a structural transformation related to the conjugation reaction. Upon reaction, the conformational dynamics of residues near the termini slow significantly more than central residues, indicating that the reaction induces a structural transition far from the reaction site. Arrhenius analysis demonstrates a nearly threefold decrease in the activation energy of conformational diffusion upon reaction (8.0kBT to 3.4kBT), which occurs across the entire peptide, independently of residue position. This novel approach to EPR spectral analysis provides insight into the positional extent of disorder and the nature of the energy landscape of a highly reactive, intrinsically disordered library peptide before and after conjugation.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-59047-7

    View details for PubMedID 32054898