STORY: Sweet discovery may improve animal, human vaccines

A substance found in sweet corn may improve the effectiveness of vaccines for both animals and people.

Adjuvants are compounds added to vaccines to help stimulate the immune system, boosting their effectiveness. Many used today are aluminum-based. Aluminum adjuvants can cause inflammation where the vaccine is injected that may persist for months and, for food animals, diminish the quality of meat products. They also are not biodegradable.

Researchers in Indiana discovered another possible adjuvant in teeny, tiny nanoparticles derived from a variety of sweet corn. They found that the new adjuvant stimulates the immune response and has a much briefer period of inflammation that eventually disappears. The new nanoparticle-based adjuvant is biodegradable and inexpensive.

The researchers now are looking at how to maximize the immune response from the corn-based adjuvant .

Land-grant universities are developing solutions to other significant animal health and agricultural challenges. Learn more: