Delivey of therapeutic substances or vaccines can be improved using nanoscale vectors. One of the most simple such vector is the liposome, which is already known since 1965 by scientist working on natural membrane lipids.
This vector can be used as a plateform for many different types of applications.
Recently the immunomodulating properties of a whole class of natural and synthetic lipids hava been understood at a molecular level in the context of the so-called innate immune system. From a practical point of vue, these discoveries are currently the basis for a whole series of new vaccines and could play a role in anti-inflammatory treatments as well.
Our laboratory in collaboration with immunologists and organic chemists has discovered the immunomodulating properties of several cationic lipids among wich some were originally synthesized in our Institution.
Amidine-based cationic lipids were first synthesized at ULB and used as transfection agents. Recently one of these lipids (amidine-based lipids) was found to have a very specific effect on inflammation, immunostimulation and allergic response. This effect is not present in other similar molecules. In collaboration with IMI (Institut d'Immunologie Médicale) and the Laboratory of Experimental Allergy (ULB) we showed a definite potential to improve vaccination and identified the molecular target of amidine lipids as the TLR4/MD-2 receptor involved in early immune defense mechanisms.
Whereas the immunostimulating properties of amidine-based lipids are not very strong (as compared to strong inflammatory agents) , we have demonstrated its use in the formulation of an experimental anti-allergy vaccination (prophylactic) based on a complex between the allergen and the amidine cationic lipids. We already clearly demonstrated protection in mice against allergy induced by dust mites.