Vaccines remain a key tool in the defence against major diseases. However, in the development of vaccines a trade off between safety and efficacy is required with newer vaccines, based on sub-unit proteins and peptides, displaying improved safety profiles yet suffering from low efficacy. Adjuvants can be employed to improve their potency, but currently there are only a limited number of adjuvant systems licensed for clinical use. Of the new adjuvants being investigated, particulate systems offer several advantages including: passive targeting to the antigen-presenting cells within the immune system, protection against adjuvant degradation, and ability for sustained antigen release. There has been a range of particulate vaccine delivery systems outlined in recent patents including polymer-based microspheres (which are generally more focused on the use of synthetic polymers, in particular the polyesters) and surfactant-based vesicles. Within these formulations, several patented systems are exploiting the use of cationic lipids which, despite their limitations in gene therapy, clearly offer strong potential as adjuvants. Within this review, the current range of particulate system technologies being investigated as potential adjuvants are discussed with regard to both their respective advantages and the potential hurdles which must be overcome for such systems to be converted into successful pharmaceutical products.
- adjuvants, immunologic
- drug delivery systems