Doherty Institute - Theses

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    The interface of nanotechnology and the human immune system
    Glass, Joshua Julian ( 2017)
    Harnessing nanomaterials for the benefit of human health has the potential to improve drug delivery, vaccination and diagnostic imaging. However, a greater understanding of the interaction between nanomaterials and the human immune system is required to improve the clinical translation of nanomedicines. Knowledge of the bio-nano interface has arisen largely from studies in cell lines and rodent models, and our poor understanding of bio-nano interactions in primary human systems remains a key knowledge gap in the development of clinical applications of nanomedicine. This thesis uses novel nano-engineered materials to characterise how material properties influence biological outcomes in primary human samples. By investigating the human bio-nano interface, this research has the potential to improve the rational design of novel nanomedicines. Blood is the first tissue encountered by nanomedicines following intravenous administration – the most common delivery method in the clinic. Therefore, human blood was used as both a source of primary blood cells to examine cell association, targeting and activation, and of plasma for the formation of complex biomolecular coronas. Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy were employed to characterise the role of key physicochemical properties of nanoparticles: charge, reactive surface chemistry, and targeting with antibodies and antibody fragments. A range of nano- engineered particles were developed including caveospheres, hyperbranched polymers (HBP), star polymers and pure PEG particles. Attempts were also made to determine how the biomolecular corona formed in human blood influences the observed bio-nano interactions. Using antibody-capture caveosphere nanoparticles, CD4+ and CD20+ human immune cells could be targeted within mixed cell populations following antibody- functionalisation. Moreover, functionalisation with anti-CCR5 antibodies enabled nanoparticle internalisation into HIV-tropic, non-phagocytic CD4+ T cells, a key hurdle in the delivery of nanoparticle-based anti-HIV therapeutics. Nanoparticle charge defined clear patterns of HBP association with blood cells. These patterns varied for nanoparticles of different material and size, and were not defined by the plasma biomolecular corona that forms in blood. Follow up studies demonstrated cationic, but not anionic or neutral, HBPs activated the myeloid subset of dendritic cells – an important cell target for vaccine applications. The effect of surface chemistry was examined using star polymers. Engineering thiol-reactive pyridyl disulfides onto star polymers directed their association with cancer cell lines, platelets (without activating them) and distinct immune cells subsets. Further studies using preclinical polymer vaccine nanoparticles demonstrated clear differences in blood phagocyte clearance based on brush vs. linear architectures of PEG. Lastly, immunologically stealth particles were functionalised with bispecific antibodies to evaluate cell targeting in the presence of complex biomolecular coronas and the impact of targeting moieties on particle stealth properties. Targeted stealth particles demonstrate potential for the targeted delivery of therapeutics or imaging agents in the presence of plasma coronas, with high specificity and only minimal disruption to particle stealth properties. Phagocytic uptake of PEG particles was dependent on the plasma biomolecular corona. Taken together, these findings further our understanding of the interactions between nano-engineered materials and the human immune system. Ultimately, the development of comprehensive human bio-nano principles will contribute to the rational design of novel nanomedicines.