A plant protein-based drug for treatment of all infectious diseases, including malaria, AIDS and Ebola has been developed by researchers. The drug, which is still under clinical trial, could eventually turn out to be a single vaccine adjuvant shot to treat multiple infectious diseases.
Dr. Rajagopal Appavu, a scientist at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas and lead author of the paper 'Enhancing the Magnitude of Antibody Responses through Biomaterial Stereochemistry' said, "We are developing peptide-based vaccine adjuvants that boost the immune system against infectious diseases. All the peptides reported have toxicity under the acceptable limit. D-peptides or D-proteins are present in plant cells and therefore, have no adverse effect on human physiology."
Pasture Grass (Phalaris tuberosa), Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus), Beechnuts, Wheat (Triticum Asetivum) and Lentil (Ervum Lens) are the source of D-peptides. Currently used drugs that are licensed for human use are aluminum-based salts, or alum or alum-MPL (alum in combination with monophosphoryl lipid A). Many vaccines in the development phase are chemically heterogeneous mixtures of plant or pathogen-derived products, formulations of mineral salts or emulsions, which have associated toxicity.
On the other hand, the current experiments by the research team would pave the way for D-peptide -based natural nano-fibre vaccine adjuvants that can be taken orally and is effective for a longer period of time. Dr. Rajgopal said, "To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to design D-peptide vaccine adjuvants for infectious diseases. Self-assembling peptides composed of D-amino acids are strong immune adjuvants and can be used as a design tool to program adaptive immune responses for vaccine development. These vaccines can be antibodies to identify and neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and virus, that causes infectious diseases, AIDS and Ebola."