The nanosponges at the foundation of the experimental "toxoid vaccine" platform are bio-compatible particles made of a polymer core (light-blue-green color) wrapped in a red-blood-cell membrane (orange). Each nanosponge's red-blood-cell membrane seizes and detains the Staphylococcus aureus (staph) toxin alpha-haemolysin (blue) without compromising the toxin's structural integrity through heating or chemical processing. These toxin-studded nanosponges served as vaccines capable of triggering neutralizing antibodies and fighting off otherwise lethal doses of the toxin in mice.
Nanosponges that soak up a dangerous pore-forming toxin produced by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) could serve as a safe and effective vaccine against this toxin. This "nanosponge vaccine" enabled the immune systems of mice to block the adverse effects of the alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA -- both within the bloodstream and on the skin. Nanoengineers from UC San Diego described the safety and efficacy of this nanosponge vaccine in the Dec. 1 issue of Nature Nanotechnology.