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ASPIDIA aims to conduct scientific research on new mucosal vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.
This is a new category of vaccines and antibodies that are administered orally or by nasal spray.

Scientific research on mucosal delivery of vaccines and antibodies, through probiotics, although still niche and very innovative, can potentially represent an important opportunity for the development of new health tools, characterized by a very low risk profile and high efficacy on the target tissue.

In fact, mucosal vaccines, unlike standard vaccines, allow the stimulation of the production of specific IgA immunoglobulins that go to reside on the mucosal surface and are able to counteract infection from the first exposures to the virus.




As a proof-of-principle, in collaboration with the Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), located in Ås, Norway, we conducted a project aimed at expressing the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus RDB antigen in Lactobacillus plantarum. 

We designed the recombinant antigen, containing the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 fused translocally with a homologous LysM motif of L. plantarum. The LysM motif was inserted as it binds noncovalently to the cell wall of L. plantarum, allowing, thus, the RDB viral antigen to be presented outside of L. plantarum cells, and accessible for recognition by cells of the host immune system. 

As expected, we observed that L. plantarum is not an ideal bacterium for heterologous protein production, and thus obtained a low protein yield. 

However, the recombinant antigen was expressed and bound to the cell wall after lysis, as expected. So the proof of concept was successful!



The technology we have spearheaded involves the utilization of a widely used food-grade lactobacillus to produce viral antigens. This innovation serves as a compelling example of how this technology can be harnessed for the creation of novel vaccines targeting both human and animal viruses. A key benefit of mucosal vaccination is its ability to stimulate the production of IgA immunoglobulin on the mucosal surfaces, effectively combating the initial phases of viral infections. As a result, scientific research in this field holds immense potential for remarkable advancements in the coming years.


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