Adding gold to vaccines increases efficacy by over 25%, research shows

An international research team has used chiral gold nanoparticles as adjuvants to increase vaccine efficacy by more than 25%.

Published Tue, Apr 19 2022 4:43 AM CDT   |   Updated Wed, May 11 2022 2:10 AM CDT

A study on the vaccine development titled "Enantiomer-dependent immunological response to chiral nanoparticles" has been published in the journal Nature.

Adding gold to vaccines increases efficacy by over 25%, research shows 01 |

An international research team found that the addition of left-handed chiral gold nanoparticles to vaccines increased their effectiveness by over 25 percent. The gold nanoparticles are added as adjuvants, molecules that boost the immune system's sensitivity to a particular antigen, where an antigen is any substance that elicits an immune response.

"The key to understanding the contribution of these nanoparticles is the concept of chirality, which applies to an object or system that can't be superimposed on its own mirror image. Everything alive on Earth is chiral. Chiral molecules can have entirely different properties depending on whether they're left- or right-handed. The two chiral forms of the same molecule are known as enantiomers," Andre Farias de Moura told Agencia FAPESP.

"A tragic example is thalidomide, a drug prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness in the late 1950s and 1960s. It caused babies to be born with a range of malformations. One of the enantiomers in the substance had the expected therapeutic effect, but the other atrophied the limbs of the fetus," Moura continued.

The research began before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the researchers paired the nanoparticles with vaccines developed for a specific influenza virus strain. However, Moura says that the breakthrough could be generalized to work for any vaccine, including those for novel variants of SARS-CoV-2 or influenza.

"We found that the enantiomers greatly enhanced the efficacy of the vaccine. Specifically, the left-handed enantiomer caused a 25.8% increase in efficacy compared with the right-handed enantiomer, and an even greater increase compared with the achiral nanoparticle," said Moura.

You can read more from the study here.

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