Darrell J. Irvine

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Irvine’s Albumin-targeted Vaccines Hitch a Ride to the Lymph Nodes to Boost Immunity

Vaccines made of small fragments of proteins produced by a disease-causing virus or bacterium are, in many cases, safer than those composed of inactivated versions of a virus. However, these peptide antigen vaccines often fail to provoke a strong enough immune response. In a paper published in Nature, KI faculty member Darrell Irvine and his team describe the development of a new way to deliver such vaccines directly to the immune cell depots, the lymph nodes. Their strategy takes advantage of the function of a protein in the bloodstream known as albumin, which is a transporter of fatty acids. Inspired by an existing procedure for targeting imaging dyes to the lymph nodes, the team’s vaccines are designed to bind to albumin, triggering the immune cells to capture the albumin and take it to the lymph nodes. In animal tests, these "hitchhiking" vaccines provoked immune responses up to 30 times stronger than those generated by the peptide antigens alone. This approach could be especially useful for delivering HIV vaccines and for stimulating the body’s immune system to attack tumors. more...

Irvine Wraps Up Vaccines for Improved Response

In a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine, the Irvine lab showed how formulation of protein or peptide vaccines in lipid nanocapsules makes them much more durable inside the body and protects the vaccine content long enough to generate a strong immune response at mucosal surfaces. The nanoparticle packaging enhances the efficacy of vaccines designed to block respiratory infection in the lungs or infection at other mucosal sites such as the gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts. In addition, the particles show promise for the delivery of therapeutic cancer vaccines, which stimulate the body’s own immune system to destroy tumors. more...

Technology Workshop: Darrell Irvine

September 20, 2012 Drug Delivery
Darrell Irvine, Koch Institute watch...

"Human Body on a Chip" Research

Four KI members are part of research team funded by Defense Advanced Research Project (DARPA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) to create a versatile platform capable of accurately predicting drug and vaccine efficacy, toxicity, and pharmacokinetics in preclinical testing.  more...

Engineering the Immune System

The Irvine lab uses nanomaterials-based "cell backpacks" to boost the immune response to cancer. watch...

Inside the Lab: Darrell Irvine

Darrell Irvine

Learn more about the work going on in the Irvine lab, which focuses on development of drug delivery tools and new methods for analyzing cellular immune responses. watch...

Photo: Peter DeMuth and James Moon

Nano-sized vaccines

MIT engineers have designed a new type of nanoparticle that could safely and effectively deliver vaccines for diseases such as HIV and malaria. The new particles consist of concentric fatty spheres that can carry synthetic versions of proteins normally produced by viruses. These synthetic particles elicit a strong immune response — comparable to that produced by live virus vaccines — but should be much safer, says KI's Darrell Irvine. more...

Image: Darrell Irvine and Matthias Stephan

A pharmacy on the back of a cell

Clinical trials using patients' own immune cells to target tumors have yielded promising results. However, this approach usually works only if the patients also receive large doses of drugs designed to help immune cells multiply rapidly, and those drugs have life-threatening side effects. Now a team of MIT engineers has devised a way to deliver the necessary drugs by smuggling them on the backs of the cells sent in to fight the tumor. That way, the drugs reach only their intended targets, greatly reducing the risk to the patient. more...

Use of Nanotechnology in Cancer 2

Darrell Irvine, Eugene Bell Associate Professor of Tissue Engineering watch...