Development of plasmid dna formulations for application as microspheric dna vaccines

  • Kwame N. Atuah

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The advent of DNA vaccines has heralded a new technology allowing the design and elicitation of immune responses more adequate for a wider range of pathogens. The formulation of these vaccines into the desired dosage forms extends their capability in terms of stability, routes of administration and efficacy.
This thesis describes an investigation into the fabrication of plasmid DNA, the active principle of DNA vaccines, into microspheres, based on the tenet of an increased cellular uptake of microparticulate matter by phagocytic cells.
The formulation of plasmid DNA into microspheres using two methods, is presented. Formulation of microspheric plasmid DNA using the double emulsion solvent evaporation method and a spray-drying method was explored. The former approach involves formation of a double emulsion, by homogenisation. This method produced microspheres of uniform size and smooth morphology, but had a detrimental effect on the formulated DNA. The spray-drying method resulted in microspheres with an improved preservation of DNA stability.
The use of polyethylenimine (PEI) and stearylamine (SA) as agents in the microspheric formulation of plasmid DNA is a novel approach to DNA vaccine design. Using these molecules as model positively-charged agents, their influence on the characteristics of the microspheric formulations was investigated. PEI improved the entrapment efficiency of the plasmid DNA in microspheres, and has minimal effect on either the surface charge, morphology or size distribution of the formulations. Stearylamine effected an increase in the entrapment efficiency and stability of the plasmid DNA and its effect on the micropshere morphology was dependent on the method of preparation. The differences in the effects of the two molecules on microsphere formulations may be attributable to their dissimilar physico-chemical properties. PEI is water-soluble and highly-branched, while SA is hydrophobic and amphipathic. The positive charge of both molecules is imparted by amine functional groups.
Preliminary data on the in vivo application of formulated DNA vaccine, using hepatitis B plasmid, showed superior humoral responses to the formulated antigen, compared with free (unformulated) antigen.
Date of AwardJun 2001
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorH.O. Alpar (Supervisor)


  • DNA vaccine delivery
  • microspheres
  • stearylamine
  • polyethylenimine
  • spray-drying
  • double emulsion solvent evaporation

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