Title: Polymer-based Vaccine Delivery Nano-platforms

Presenter:  Dr Mariusz Skwarczynski, SCMB, UQ

Abstract: Vaccination is the most efficient and cost-effective method for combating infectious diseases. Conventional vaccines composed of live/attenuated or killed microorganisms have been efficacious against many diseases such as influenza, smallpox, and chickenpox. However, pathogen-based vaccines may also be associated with risks of autoimmunity and allergic responses, for example, the occurrence of such responses during clinical trials blocked the development of a vaccine against Group A streptococcus (GAS). Subunit vaccines, on the other hand, rely on a small, well-defined antigen for the induction of immune responses, which makes them safer than other vaccines but also reduces their immunogenicity due to the absence of a pathogen-associated "danger signal."


Nanoparticulate vaccine formulations incorporating self-assembling polymers can boost the immunogenicity of subunit vaccines by enhancing their recognition by immune cells. In addition, the nanoparticles can be delivered effectively via intranasal and oral routes. Therefore, we have developed numerous nano-sized polymer-based delivery systems for subunit vaccines targeting, among others, COVID-19, cancer, malaria, GAS, hookworm, and Schistosoma infections. We also discovered a fully defined polymer that has no chain or stereochemistry variability and is biodegradable to non-toxic natural amino acids. This polymer was highly effective to stimulate both humoral and cellular immunity against a variety of diseases.


Bio: Mariusz Skwarczynski completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1999 at Wroclaw University of Technology (Poland). His postdoctoral training began at Tokushima Bunri University (Japan), where he studied the biomimetic total synthesis of the anticancer agent paclitaxel. Then, he relocated to Kyoto Pharmaceutical University (Japan) to investigate the prodrugs of paclitaxel. In 2004 he was awarded Japan Society for the Promotion of Science postdoctoral fellowship and co-developed an epimerization-free method for the synthesis of novel building blocks (isodipeptides) for solid-phase peptide synthesis. These units have been commercialized by Merck-Novabiochem.


In 2008 he joined Professor Istvan Toth’s group at The University of Queensland to work on new vaccine development strategies. Since then, his research is mainly focused on nanotechnology-based peptide vaccine delivery approaches. In 2010 he was awarded University of Queensland Strategic Fund Research Fellowship. He is Regional Editor of Australia in Vaccines, and Associate Editor in Frontiers in Pharmacology (Experimental Pharmacology and Drug Discovery). He has published over 170 peer-reviewed publications, including several book chapters and two books.


Expertscape's PubMed-based scheme labelled him as a "World Expert" and placed him in the top 0.1% of scholars writing about Subunit Vaccines over the past 10 years (3rd in the world). Mariusz Skwarczynski was aslo listed among World’s Top 1% Scientists by Stanford University (2022 ranking, all science fields) for its activity in 2021.

About School research seminars

Seminars cover all aspects of chemistry and molecular biosciences and are delivered by visiting national and international academics. PhD completion seminars are also incorporated into the program.

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