At the Department of Nanobiotechnology at BOKU, a “nano Trojan” will be developed which is supposed to induce immunization against the COVID-19 virus via the nasal mucosa. “We have the building blocks in the laboratory to produce a functional nano-image of viruses. This structural image should penetrate the cells in the same way as the COVID-19 virus and activate our immune system there. ”(Prof. Dr. Uwe B. Sleytr)
Self-organizing proteins (so-called S-layers) are already known as building blocks for a virus-like structure. They form a molecular modular system that works like the molecular LEGOTM and that is now being used to manufacture stable “nano Trojans” for a new vaccine strategy. The S-layers, which originate from the realm of microorganisms, were identified and characterized in advance under the direction of the emeritus Professor Dr. Uwe B. Sleytr.
Immune response that should also recognize the virus itself
The Institute for Synthetic Bioarchitectures at BOKU, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Eva-Kathrin Ehmoser and Prof. Dr. Uwe B. Sleytr, had been entering a strong collaboration with the US biotechnology company Avalon GloboCare. The aim is to produce S-layer viroid particles that correspond to the COVID-19 virus particles in terms of their surface and function, but of course no longer contain the disease-causing information - i.e. like a "Trojan horse without a warrior". The research vision is that this triggers an immune response in humans, which then recognizes the actual virus. "If we succeed in 'warning' our immune system with virus-like nanoparticles, we have a completely new strategy in hand to fight the pandemic." (Prof. Dr. Eva-Kathrin Ehmoser)
The nasopharynx as a gateway for pathogens
The nasopharynx as a place of molecular recognition and the well-known entry organ of pathogens into the human organism has long been one of the research topics of Prof. Dr. Eva-Kathrin Ehmoser, head of the Institute for Synthetic Bioarchitectures at BOKU. In her institute, nanoparticles are produced and examined, which play an important role in the context of sensor technology and environmental research. Her institute works primarily in the field of nanosciences in connection with cell biological issues.
So it made sense to combine several research directions to develop a completely new strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to initiate a joint project from the production of the S-layer Trojans to cellular uptake and the immunological response. "When well-researched topics are re-examined and brought together, particularly innovative solutions often result," emphasize Ehmoser and Sleytr. Such a radically new research approach on the subject of COVID-19 has now been developed at the Institute for Synthetic Bioarchitectures at BOKU in cooperation with the US partner Avalon GloboCare.
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Eva-Kathrin Ehmoser
Institut für Synthetische Bioarchitekturen
Tel.: 01 47654-80411