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United States Patent Application 20180043023
Kind Code A1
Ilyinskii; Petr ;   et al. February 15, 2018

DOSE SELECTION OF ADJUVANTED SYNTHETIC NANOCARRIERS

Abstract

Disclosed are synthetic nanocarrier compositions with coupled adjuvant compositions as well as related methods.


Inventors: Ilyinskii; Petr; (Cambridge, MA) ; Lipford; Grayson B.; (Watertown, MA) ; Zepp; Charles; (Hardwick, MA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Ilyinskii; Petr
Lipford; Grayson B.
Zepp; Charles

Cambridge
Watertown
Hardwick

MA
MA
MA

US
US
US
Assignee: Selecta Biosciences, Inc.
Watertown
MA

Family ID: 1000002943783
Appl. No.: 15/684896
Filed: August 23, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
14717451May 20, 20159764031
15684896
13116542May 26, 20119066978
14717451
61358635Jun 25, 2010
61348713May 26, 2010
61348717May 26, 2010
61348728May 26, 2010

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A61K 2039/55522 20130101; A61K 9/5153 20130101; A61K 2039/542 20130101; A61K 2039/541 20130101; A61K 2039/54 20130101; A61K 2039/70 20130101; A61K 2039/55561 20130101; A61K 39/35 20130101; A61K 39/0005 20130101; A61K 47/646 20170801; A61K 47/6931 20170801; A61K 47/6929 20170801; A61K 47/68 20170801; A61K 47/6921 20170801; A61K 47/593 20170801; A61K 47/58 20170801; A61K 47/60 20170801; A61K 2039/543 20130101; A61K 31/4745 20130101; A61K 39/0013 20130101; A61K 39/385 20130101; A61K 2039/6093 20130101; A61K 2039/55511 20130101; A61K 2039/55555 20130101; A61K 2039/555 20130101; A61K 47/24 20130101; A61K 47/22 20130101; A61K 47/02 20130101; A61K 45/06 20130101; A61K 39/39 20130101; A61K 31/7115 20130101; A61K 33/06 20130101
International Class: A61K 45/06 20060101 A61K045/06; A61K 9/51 20060101 A61K009/51; A61K 31/4745 20060101 A61K031/4745; A61K 31/7115 20060101 A61K031/7115; A61K 33/06 20060101 A61K033/06; A61K 47/22 20060101 A61K047/22; A61K 47/02 20060101 A61K047/02; A61K 39/39 20060101 A61K039/39; A61K 39/35 20060101 A61K039/35; A61K 39/00 20060101 A61K039/00; A61K 39/385 20060101 A61K039/385; A61K 47/24 20060101 A61K047/24

Claims



1. A method comprising: providing a dose of adjuvant and a dose of antigen, wherein at least a portion of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, generating an antibody titer against the antigen through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to a subject, and choosing the dose of adjuvant to be less than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an antibody titer similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to the subject.

2.-16. (canceled)

17. The method of claim 1, wherein the synthetic nanocarriers comprise one or more polymers.

18. (canceled)

19. The method of claim 17, wherein the one or more polymers comprise or further comprise a polyester coupled to a hydrophilic polymer.

20. (canceled)

21. The method of claim 19, wherein the hydrophilic polymer comprises a polyether.

22. (canceled)

23.-25. (canceled)

26. The method of claim 1, wherein the subject has cancer, an infectious disease, a non-autoimmune metabolic disease, a degenerative disease, an addiction, and atopic condition, asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or a chronic infection.

27. (canceled)

28. A method comprising: providing a dose of adjuvant, wherein at least a portion of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, generating a systemic cytokine release through administration of the dose of adjuvant to a subject, and choosing the dose of adjuvant to be greater than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in a systemic cytokine release similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant to the subject.

29. The method of claim 28, wherein the adjuvant comprises an agonist for Toll-Like Receptors 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, or 9 or a combination thereof.

30.-31. (canceled)

32. The method of claim 28, wherein the dose of adjuvant comprises two or more types of adjuvants.

33. The method of claim 28, wherein a portion of the dose of adjuvant is not coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers.

34. The method of claim 28, wherein more than one type of antigen are administered to the subject.

35. The method of claim 34, wherein at least a portion of a dose of antigen(s) is coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers.

36. The method of claim 34, wherein at least a portion of a dose of antigen(s) is not coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers.

37. The method of claim 34, wherein at least a portion of a dose of antigen(s) is coadministered with the synthetic nanocarriers.

38. The method of claim 34, wherein at least a portion of a dose of antigen(s) is not coadministered with the synthetic nanocarriers.

39.-41. (cancelled)

42. The method of claim 28, wherein the administration is by a route that comprises subcutaneous, intramuscular, intradermal, oral, intranasal, transmucosal, rectal; ophthalmic, transdermal or transcutaneous administration, or a combination thereof.

43. The method of claim 28, wherein the synthetic nanocarriers comprise lipid nanoparticles, polymeric nanoparticles, metallic nanoparticles, surfactant-based emulsions, dendrimers, buckyballs, nanowires, virus-like particles, peptide or protein particles, nanoparticles that comprise a combination of nanomaterials, spheroidal nanoparticles, cuboidal nanoparticles, pyramidal nanoparticles, oblong nanoparticles, cylindrical nanoparticles, or toroidal nanoparticles.

44. The method of claim 28, wherein the synthetic nanocarriers comprise one or more polymers.

45. The method of claim 44, wherein the one or more polymers comprise a polyester.

46.-52. (canceled)

53. The method of claim 28, wherein the subject has cancer, an infectious disease, a non-autoimmune metabolic disease, a degenerative disease, an addiction, and atopic condition, asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or a chronic infection.

54.-59. (canceled)

60. A dose of adjuvant and dose of antigen as defined in claim 1, for use in therapy or prophylaxis.

61.-64. (canceled)
Description



RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/717,451, filed May 20, 2015, now allowed, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/116,542, filed May 26, 2011, now granted as U.S. Pat. No. 9,066,978, which claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. .sctn. 119 of U.S. Provisional Application Nos. 61/348,713 filed May 26, 2010, 61/348,717 filed May 26, 2010, 61/348,728, filed May 26, 2010, and 61/358,635, filed Jun. 25, 2010, the entire contents of each of which are incorporated herein by reference.

SEQUENCE LISTING

[0002] The contents of the ASCII text file entitled "S168170015US03-SEQ-JAV", created on Aug. 23, 2017 and 1 kb in size, is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Adjuvants are important components of the majority of currently used vaccination regimens. They are likely to be integrated into future vaccine products as well. Numerous novel adjuvants are now being developed, and many of those have been demonstrated to augment immune responses to vaccines in research and clinical settings. However, adjuvant doses that are beneficial for immune response augmentation can be capable of inducing side-effects in a significant group of patients. In fact, these two capacities of adjuvants are intrinsically linked since it is the broad immune stimulation per se that provides stimuli for vaccination augmentation as well as its side-effects (toxicities). Both of these processes are known to be driven by release of inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, approaches that diminish side-effects of adjuvant administration and/or specifically augment certain immune responses, will be of great clinical value.

[0004] Therefore, what is needed are compositions and methods that effectively provide desired immune response(s) that can reduce the frequency of adverse events associated with adjuvant use in vaccines.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] In one aspect, a method comprising providing a dose of adjuvant and a dose of antigen, wherein at least a portion of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, and generating an antibody titer against the antigen through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to a subject, wherein the dose of adjuvant is less than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an antibody titer similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to the subject is provided. In one embodiment, the method further comprises choosing the dose of adjuvant to be less than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an antibody titer similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to the subject. Preferably, the same entity performs each of the steps of these methods (i.e., the same entity performs the providing, generating and/or choosing steps). In another aspect, a composition comprising the dose of adjuvant that is less than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an antibody titer similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to the subject is provided.

[0006] In another aspect, a method comprising providing a dose of adjuvant, wherein at least a portion of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, and generating a systemic cytokine release through administration of the dose of adjuvant to a subject, wherein the dose of adjuvant is greater than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in a systemic cytokine release similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant to the subject is provided. In one embodiment, the method further comprises choosing the dose of adjuvant to be greater than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in a systemic cytokine release similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant to the subject. Preferably, the same entity performs each of the steps of these methods (i.e., the same entity performs the providing, generating and/or choosing steps). In another aspect, a composition comprising the dose of adjuvant that is greater than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in a systemic cytokine release similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant to the subject is provided.

[0007] In one embodiment, the adjuvant(s) of any of the methods and compositions provided herein comprise an agonist for Toll-Like Receptors 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, or 9 or a combination thereof. In another embodiment, the adjuvant comprises an agonist for Toll-Like Receptors 3, an agonist for Toll-Like Receptors 7 and 8, or an agonist for Toll-Like Receptor 9. In yet another embodiment, the adjuvant comprises R848, immunostimulatory DNA, or immunostimulatory RNA. In a further embodiment, the dose of adjuvant of any of the methods and compositions provided herein comprises two or more types of adjuvants. In one embodiment, a portion of the dose of adjuvant is not coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers.

[0008] In another embodiment of any of the methods and compositions provided herein more than one type of antigen are administered to the subject. In one embodiment, at least a portion of the dose of antigen(s) is coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers. In another embodiment, at least a portion of the dose of antigen(s) is not coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers. In yet another embodiment, at least a portion of the dose of antigen(s) is coadministered with the synthetic nanocarriers. In still another embodiment, at least a portion of the dose of antigen(s) is not coadministered with the synthetic nanocarriers. In one embodiment, the antigen(s) comprise a B cell antigen and/or a T cell antigen. In another embodiment, the T cell antigen comprises a universal T cell antigen or T-helper cell antigen. In still another embodiment, the antigen(s) comprise a B cell antigen or a T cell antigen and a universal T cell antigen or T-helper cell antigen. In one embodiment, the T helper cell antigen comprises a peptide obtained or derived from ovalbumin. In another embodiment, the peptide obtained or derived from ovalbumin comprises the sequence as set forth in SEQ ID NO: 1. In still another embodiment of any of the methods and compositions provided herein, the universal T cell antigen or T helper cell antigen is coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers by encapsulation. In yet another embodiment of any of the methods and compositions provided herein, the B cell antigen comprises nicotine. In a further embodiment, the synthetic nanocarriers comprise nicotine and a universal T cell antigen or T helper cell antigen. In still a further embodiment, the nicotine and/or universal T cell antigen or T helper cell antigen are coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers. In one embodiment, the universal T cell antigen or T helper cell antigen is coupled by encapsulation.

[0009] In another embodiment of any of the methods and compositions provided, the dose of adjuvant comprises R848 and the dose of antigen comprises nicotine and a universal T cell antigen or T-helper cell antigen, wherein the nicotine and universal T cell antigen or T-helper cell antigen are also coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers, and wherein the synthetic nanocarriers comprise one or more polymers.

[0010] In another embodiment of any of the methods and compositions provided herein, the synthetic nanocarriers comprise lipid nanoparticles, polymeric nanoparticles, metallic nanoparticles, surfactant-based emulsions, dendrimers, buckyballs, nanowires, virus-like particles, peptide or protein particles, nanoparticles that comprise a combination of nanomaterials, spheroidal nanoparticles, cuboidal nanoparticles, pyramidal nanoparticles, oblong nanoparticles, cylindrical nanoparticles, or toroidal nanoparticles. In one embodiment, the synthetic nanocarriers comprise one or more polymers. In another embodiment, the one or more polymers comprise a polyester. In yet another embodiment, the one or more polymers comprise or further comprise a polyester coupled to a hydrophilic polymer. In still another embodiment, the polyester comprises a poly(lactic acid), poly(glycolic acid), poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), or polycaprolactone. In one embodiment, the hydrophilic polymer comprises a polyether. In another embodiment, the polyether comprises polyethylene glycol.

[0011] In one embodiment of any of the methods and compositions provided, at least one dosage form comprises the dose of adjuvant. In another embodiment, a vaccine comprises the dosage form(s). In still another embodiment, the more than one dosage form comprise the dose of adjuvant, and the more than one dosage form are co-administered.

[0012] In one embodiment of any of the methods provided, the administration is by a route that comprises subcutaneous, intramuscular, intradermal, oral, intranasal, transmucosal, rectal; ophthalmic, transdermal or transcutaneous administration, or a combination thereof.

[0013] In another embodiment of any of the methods provided, the subject has cancer, an infectious disease, a non-autoimmune metabolic disease, a degenerative disease, an addiction, and atopic condition, asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or a chronic infection.

[0014] In another aspect, a dose of adjuvant and dose of antigen or dose of adjuvant, as defined in regard to any of the methods or compositions provided, for use in therapy or prophylaxis is provided.

[0015] In yet another aspect, a dose of adjuvant and dose of antigen or dose of adjuvant, as defined in regard to any of the methods or compositions provided, for use in any of the methods provided is provided.

[0016] In still another aspect, a dose of adjuvant and dose of antigen or dose of adjuvant, as defined in regard to any of the methods or compositions provided, for use in a method of treating cancer, an infectious disease, a non-autoimmune metabolic disease, a degenerative disease, an addiction, and atopic condition, asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or a chronic infection is provided. In one embodiment, the method comprises administration of the dose(s) by a route that comprises subcutaneous, intramuscular, intradermal, oral, intranasal, transmucosal, rectal; ophthalmic, transdermal or transcutaneous administration, or a combination thereof.

[0017] In a further aspect, a use of a dose of adjuvant and dose of antigen or dose of adjuvant as defined in regard to any of the methods or compositions provided, for the manufacture of a medicament for use in any of the methods provided is provided.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES

[0018] FIGS. A, 1B, and 1C show the systemic cytokine production in mice after nanocarrier (NC) inoculation, the production of TNF-.alpha., IL-6, and IL-12 in experimental groups, respectively. Sera from groups of three mice were pooled and analyzed by ELISA.

[0019] FIG. 2 shows the systemic IFN-.gamma. production in mice after NC inoculation. Sera from groups of three mice were pooled and analyzed by ELISA.

[0020] FIG. 3 shows the systemic IL-12 production in mice after inoculation with free or NC-coupled TLR agonists. Sera from groups of two mice were pooled and analyzed by ELISA.

[0021] FIG. 4 shows the local induction of immune cytokines by free or NC-coupled TLR agoinsts. Each point represents an average of two lymph nodes (LNs) from separate mice.

[0022] FIG. 5 shows the cell population dynamics in popliteal lymph nodes after inoculation with free and NC-coupled TLR7/8 agonist R848. Three intact mice were sacrificed at different days and the average cell counts from their popliteal LN assigned "day 0" meaning of "1" to which all other numbers were compared. Each bar from R848- or NC-inoculated group represents an average from two lymph nodes taken from independent animals.

[0023] FIG. 6 shows anti-nicotine antibody titers in mice immunized with NC containing surface nicotine and T-helper peptide OP-II with or without R848.

[0024] FIGS. 7A and 7B shows that TNF-.alpha. and IL-6 were induced in sera of NC-CpG- and free CpG-inoculated animals.

[0025] FIG. 8 shows the induction of IFN-.gamma. and IL-12 in sera of NC-CpG- and free CpG-inoculated animals.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0026] Before describing the present invention in detail, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to particularly exemplified materials or process parameters as such may, of course, vary. It is also to be understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments of the invention only, and is not intended to be limiting of the use of alternative terminology to describe the present invention.

[0027] All publications, patents and patent applications cited herein, whether supra or infra, are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes.

[0028] As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a," "an" and "the" include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. For example, reference to "a polymer" includes a mixture of two or more such molecules, reference to "a solvent" includes a mixture of two or more such solvents, reference to "an adhesive" includes mixtures of two or more such materials, and the like.

Introduction

[0029] The inventors have unexpectedly and surprisingly discovered that the problems and limitations noted above can be overcome by practicing the invention disclosed herein. The discoveries described herein relate to adjuvant coupling to nanocarriers, and based on these discoveries methods and related compositions are provided that are directed to generating desired immune responses through the selection of specific doses of adjuvant coupled to nanocarriers. In some embodiments, and depending on the desired immune response(s), these doses are less than doses of adjuvant not coupled to nanocarriers in a similar context. In other embodiments, these doses are greater than doses of adjuvant not coupled to nanocarriers.

[0030] In one aspect, the inventors have unexpectedly discovered that it is possible to provide methods, and related compositions, that comprise a method comprising administering a dose of adjuvant, when coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, that is less than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an immune response (e.g., antibody titer) similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant to a subject. Because of the stronger adjuvant effect as a result of coupling at least a portion of a dose of adjuvant to a synthetic nanocarrier, less adjuvant may be used. The doses of adjuvant, therefore, can be sub-therapeutic or toxicity-reduced doses, wherein at least a portion of the dose of the adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers. In another aspect, the invention relates to a composition comprising a dosage form comprising a sub-therapeutic or toxicity-reduced dose of adjuvant, and a pharmaceutically acceptable excipient, wherein at least a portion of the dose of the adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers. In still another aspect, the invention relations to a method comprising administering a sub-therapeutic or toxicity-reduced dose of adjuvant to a subject; wherein at least a portion of the dose of the adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers.

[0031] Coupling of adjuvants to nanocarriers was observed to provide a stronger adjuvant effect and to lead to a substantially higher antibody response when compared to admixed adjuvant. In addition, it was also observed that coupled adjuvant results in a greater antibody response even when a substantially greater amount of free adjuvant (as much as 6-fold greater) is used. See Example 11. This result is contrary to what is expected from the teachings provided in Diwan et al., Current Drug Delivery, 2004, 1, 405-412, where it was found that antibody production, particularly at lower doses of adjuvant, was higher when adjuvant was given in solution rather than with particulate delivery. An opposite result, however, is described herein.

[0032] In another aspect, therefore, the inventors have unexpectedly discovered that it is possible to provide methods, and related compositions, that comprise a method comprising providing a dose of adjuvant and a dose of antigen, wherein at least a portion of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, and generating an antibody titer against the antigen through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to a subject, wherein the dose of adjuvant is less than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an antibody titer similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to the subject. In embodiments, the method further comprises choosing the dose of adjuvant to be less than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an antibody titer similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to the subject (e.g., a human). Preferably, the steps of the methods provided herein are performed by the same entity. In still another aspect, the invention relates to a composition comprising a dosage form comprising a dose of adjuvant and a dose of antigen and a pharmaceutically acceptable excipient, wherein at least a portion of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, and wherein the dose of adjuvant is less than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an antibody titer similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant and the dose of antigen to a subject.

[0033] It has also been demonstrated that coupling of adjuvant to nanocarriers can result in a lower immediate systemic cytokine induction than utilizing free adjuvant. Therefore, coupling of adjuvant to nanocarriers can allow for the use of a higher dose of adjuvant as compared to separate adjuvant. In another aspect, therefore, the invention relates to a method comprising providing a dose of adjuvant, wherein at least a portion of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, generating an immune response (e.g., a systemic cytokine release) through administration of the dose of adjuvant to a subject (e.g., a human), wherein the dose of adjuvant is greater than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in the immune response similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant to the subject. In embodiments, the method further comprises choosing the dose of adjuvant to be greater than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an immune response (e.g., systemic cytokine release) similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant to the subject. Preferably, the steps of the methods provided herein are performed by the same entity. In yet another aspect, the invention relates to a composition comprising a dosage form comprising a dose of adjuvant and a pharmaceutically acceptable excipient, wherein at least a portion of the dose of the adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, and wherein the dose of adjuvant is greater than a separate dose of adjuvant that results in an immune response (e.g., systemic cytokine release) similar to that generated through administration of the dose of adjuvant to the subject.

[0034] Collectively, with the discoveries provided herein it is now possible to select an adjuvant dose depending on the desired immune result that is specific for the use of adjuvant coupled to nanocarriers. The dose can be a lower one (as compared to separate adjuvant) that generates antibody titers or that avoids unwanted systemic activity (while strongly potentiating local immunostimulatory effects). The dose can be a greater one that generates a similar systemic cytokine release profile as compared to separate adjuvant.

[0035] In a further aspect, the administration of compositions provided herein can be beneficial to any subject in which the modulation of an immune response is desired. In some embodiments, the subject is one in which an inflammatory response is desired. In other embodiments, the subjects are those where a Th1 immune response is desired. In some embodiments, the subjects have or are at risk of having cancer. In other embodiments, the subjects have or are at risk of having an infection or an infectious disease. In still other embodiments, the subjects have or are at risk of having an atopic condition, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or a chronic infection. Methods for the administration of the compositions to such subjects are also provided.

[0036] Examples 1-13 illustrates various embodiments of the present invention, including different formulations or aspects of the present invention. The compositions and methods described in the Examples are also provided herein.

[0037] The invention will now be described in more detail below.

Definitions

[0038] "Adjuvant" means an agent that does not constitute a specific antigen, but boosts the strength and longevity of immune response to a concomitantly administered antigen. Such adjuvants may include, but are not limited to stimulators of pattern recognition receptors, such as Toll-like receptors, RIG-1 and NOD-like receptors (NLR), mineral salts, such as alum, alum combined with monphosphoryl lipid (MPL) A of Enterobacteria, such as Escherihia coli, Salmonella minnesota, Salmonella typhimurium, or Shigella flexneri or specifically with MPL.RTM. (AS04), MPL A of above-mentioned bacteria separately, saponins, such as QS-21, Quil-A, ISCOMs, ISCOMATRIX.TM., emulsions such as MF59.TM., Montanide.RTM. ISA 51 and ISA 720, AS02 (QS21+squalene+MPL.RTM.), AS15, liposomes and liposomal formulations such as AS01, synthesized or specifically prepared microparticles and microcarriers such as bacteria-derived outer membrane vesicles (OMV) of N. gonorrheae, Chlamydia trachomatis and others, or chitosan particles, depot-forming agents, such as Pluronic.RTM. block co-polymers, specifically modified or prepared peptides, such as muramyl dipeptide, aminoalkyl glucosaminide 4-phosphates, such as RC529, or proteins, such as bacterial toxoids or toxin fragments.

[0039] In embodiments, adjuvants comprise agonists for pattern recognition receptors (PRR), including, but not limited to Toll-Like Receptors (TLRs), specifically TLRs 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and/or combinations thereof. In other embodiments, adjuvants comprise agonists for Toll-Like Receptors 3, agonists for Toll-Like Receptors 7 and 8, or agonists for Toll-Like Receptor 9; preferably the recited adjuvants comprise imidazoquinolines; such as R848; adenine derivatives, such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,329,381 (Sumitomo Pharmaceutical Company), US Published Patent Application 2010/0075995 to Biggadike et al., or WO 2010/018132 to Campos et al.; immunostimulatory DNA; or immunostimulatory RNA. In specific embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers incorporate as adjuvants compounds that are agonists for toll-like receptors (TLRs) 7 & 8 ("TLR 7/8 agonists"). Of utility are the TLR 7/8 agonist compounds disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,696,076 to Tomai et al., including but not limited to imidazoquinoline amines, imidazopyridine amines, 6,7-fused cycloalkylimidazopyridine amines, and 1,2-bridged imidazoquinoline amines. Preferred adjuvants comprise imiquimod and resiquimod (also known as R848). In specific embodiments, an adjuvant may be an agonist for the DC surface molecule CD40. In certain embodiments, to stimulate immunity rather than tolerance, a synthetic nanocarrier incorporates an adjuvant that promotes DC maturation (needed for priming of naive T cells) and the production of cytokines, such as type I interferons, which promote antibody immune responses. In embodiments, adjuvants also may comprise immunostimulatory RNA molecules, such as but not limited to dsRNA, poly I:C or poly I:poly C 12U (available as Ampligen.RTM., both poly I:C and poly I:polyC12U being known as TLR3 stimulants), and/or those disclosed in F. Heil et al., "Species-Specific Recognition of Single-Stranded RNA via Toll-like Receptor 7 and 8" Science 303(5663), 1526-1529 (2004); J. Vollmer et al., "Immune modulation by chemically modified ribonucleosides and oligoribonucleotides" WO 2008033432 A2; A. Forsbach et al., "Immunostimulatory oligoribonucleotides containing specific sequence motif(s) and targeting the Toll-like receptor 8 pathway" WO 2007062107 A2; E. Uhlmann et al., "Modified oligoribonucleotide analogs with enhanced immunostimulatory activity" U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ. US 2006241076; G. Lipford et al., "Immunostimulatory viral RNA oligonucleotides and use for treating cancer and infections" WO 2005097993 A2; G. Lipford et al., "Immunostimulatory G,U-containing oligoribonucleotides, compositions, and screening methods" WO 2003086280 A2. In some embodiments, an adjuvant may be a TLR-4 agonist, such as bacterial lipopolysacccharide (LPS), VSV-G, and/or HMGB-1. In some embodiments, adjuvants may comprise TLR-5 agonists, such as flagellin, or portions or derivatives thereof, including but not limited to those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,130,082, 6,585,980, and 7,192,725. In specific embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers incorporate a ligand for Toll-like receptor (TLR)-9, such as immunostimulatory DNA molecules comprising CpGs, which induce type I interferon secretion, and stimulate T and B cell activation leading to increased antibody production and cytotoxic T cell responses (Krieg et al., CpG motifs in bacterial DNA trigger direct B cell activation. Nature. 1995. 374:546-549; Chu et al. CpG oligodeoxynucleotides act as adjuvants that switch on T helper 1 (Th1) immunity. J. Exp. Med. 1997. 186:1623-1631; Lipford et al. CpG-containing synthetic oligonucleotides promote B and cytotoxic T cell responses to protein antigen: a new class of vaccine adjuvants. Eur. J. Immunol. 1997. 27:2340-2344; Roman et al. Immunostimulatory DNA sequences function as T helper-1-promoting adjuvants. . Nat. Med. 1997. 3:849-854; Davis et al. CpG DNA is a potent enhancer of specific immunity in mice immunized with recombinant hepatitis B surface antigen. J. Immunol. 1998. 160:870-876; Lipford et al., Bacterial DNA as immune cell activator. Trends Microbiol. 1998. 6:496-500; U.S. Pat. No. 6,207,646 to Krieg et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 7,223,398 to Tuck et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 7,250,403 to Van Nest et al.; or U.S. Pat. No. 7,566,703 to Krieg et al.

[0040] In some embodiments, adjuvants may be proinflammatory stimuli released from necrotic cells (e.g., urate crystals). In some embodiments, adjuvants may be activated components of the complement cascade (e.g., CD21, CD35, etc.). In some embodiments, adjuvants may be activated components of immune complexes. The adjuvants also include complement receptor agonists, such as a molecule that binds to CD21 or CD35. In some embodiments, the complement receptor agonist induces endogenous complement opsonization of the synthetic nanocarrier. In some embodiments, adjuvants are cytokines, which are small proteins or biological factors (in the range of 5 kD-20 kD) that are released by cells and have specific effects on cell-cell interaction, communication and behavior of other cells. In some embodiments, the cytokine receptor agonist is a small molecule, antibody, fusion protein, or aptamer.

[0041] In embodiments, at least a portion of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, preferably, all of the dose of adjuvant is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers. In embodiments, the dose of adjuvant comprises two or more types of adjuvants. For instance, and without limitation, adjuvants that act on different receptors, such as different TLR receptors may be combined. As an example, in an embodiment a TLR 7/8 agonist may be combined with a TLR 9 agonist. In another embodiment, a TLR 7/8 agonist may be combined with a TLR 4 agonist. In yet another embodiment, a TLR 9 agonist may be combined with a TLR 3 agonist.

[0042] "Administering" or "administration" means providing a substance to a subject in a manner that is pharmacologically useful.

[0043] "Amount effective" is any amount of a composition that produces one or more desired immune responses. This amount can be for in vitro or in vivo purposes. For in vivo purposes, the amount can be one that a clinician would believe may have a clinical benefit for a subject in need of an immune response. Such subjects include those that have or are at risk of having cancer, an infection or infectious disease, an atopic condition, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or a chronic infection.

[0044] Amounts effective include those that involve the generation of an antibody titer and/or the systemic release of one or more cytokines. In embodiments, the amounts effective include those that involve the production of a systemic cytokine release profile. In some embodiments, the one or more cytokines or cytokine release profile comprises the systemic release of TNF-.alpha., IL-6 and/or IL-12. In other embodiments, the one or more cytokines or cytokine release profile comprises the systemic release of IFN-.gamma., IL-12 and/or IL-18. This can be monitored by routine methods. An amount that is effective to produce one or more desired immune responses can also be an amount of a composition provided herein that produces a desired therapeutic endpoint or a desired therapeutic result.

[0045] Amounts effective will depend, of course, on the particular subject being treated; the severity of a condition, disease or disorder; the individual patient parameters including age, physical condition, size and weight; the duration of the treatment; the nature of concurrent therapy (if any); the specific route of administration and like factors within the knowledge and expertise of the health practitioner. These factors are well known to those of ordinary skill in the art and can be addressed with no more than routine experimentation. It is generally preferred that a "maximum dose" be used, that is, the highest safe dose according to sound medical judgment. It will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, however, that a patient may insist upon a lower dose or tolerable dose for medical reasons, psychological reasons or for virtually any other reasons.

[0046] In embodiments, the selection of the doses of adjuvant(s) coupled to nanocarriers is dependent on a comparison with doses of separate adjuvant(s) (i.e., not coupled to nanocarriers) that generate a similar immune response (with or without antigen). As used herein, a "similar immune response" includes immune responses that a health practitioner would expect to result in a comparable therapeutic result in a subject. Similar immune responses also include immune responses that are the same type of response (e.g., the induction of the same particular cytokine or set of cytokines, the generation of the same type of antibody titer, etc.), the level of which is not considered to be statistically different.

[0047] Whether or not a similar immune response is generated can be determined with in vitro or in vivo techniques. For example, whether or not a similar immune response is generated can be determined by measuring an immune response (e.g., antibody titer or cytokine(s) release) in a subject through the administration of the dose of separate adjuvant (with or without antigen) to the subject. The subject is not necessarily the same subject to which the inventive composition comprising nanocarrier coupled adjuvant are administered in the inventive methods. The subject, for example, can be a clinical trial subject or subjects to which the dose of separate adjuvant was previously administered. The subject can also be an animal model subject or subjects to which the dose of separate adjuvant was previously administered. The determination of the immune response in the subject can also be determined by measuring the response of cells isolated from the subject, or cells from another subject or subjects, that are placed in contact with the dose of separate adjuvant (with or without antigen). The other subject or subjects again can be previous clinical trial subjects or animal model subjects.

[0048] In embodiments, the comparison is based on the measurement of an immune response (e.g., particular type of antibody titer, particular cytokine level, levels of a set of cytokines) can be done within the first 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 or more hours after immunization with the dose of separate adjuvant. In other embodiments, the immune response is measured within 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 or more days after immunization. Assays for determining whether or not an immune response is similar are known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Additionally, examples of such assays are described in more detail in the Examples.

[0049] Whether or not a dose of separate adjuvant (with or without antigen) generates a similar immune response can also be determined by what a health practitioner would expect the immune response (or level of immune response) to be based on results from prior in vitro and/or in vivo assays (in other subjects). Such results can include results from clinical trials where effective doses have been determined. Accordingly, the dose of separate adjuvant that is used in the comparison is an amount a health practitioner would expect to be effective to produce the immune response or therapeutic effect. In another embodiment, the dose of separate adjuvant that is used in the comparison is the dose of separate adjuvant a health practitioner would expect to be the maximum tolerated dose. In embodiments, the dose of coupled adjuvant is 1-fold, 2-fold, 3-fold, 4-fold, 5-fold or 6-fold less than a dose of separate adjuvant that is an amount effective to generate an immune response or therapeutic result provided herein. In other embodiments, the dose of coupled adjuvant is at least 1-fold, 2-fold, 3-fold, 4-fold, 5-fold or 6-fold less than a dose of separate adjuvant that is a maximum tolerated dose. In other embodiments, the dose of coupled adjuvants is greater than a dose of separate adjuvant that is an amount effective to generate an immune response or therapeutic result provided herein. In other embodiments, the dose of coupled adjuvant is greater than a dose of separate adjuvant that is a maximum tolerated dose.

[0050] In general, doses of the adjuvant(s) or antigen(s) of the compositions of the invention can range from about 0.001 .mu.g/kg to about 100 mg/kg. In some embodiments, the doses can range from about 0.01 .mu.g/kg to about 10 mg/kg. In still other embodiments, the doses can range from about 0.1 .mu.g/kg to about 5 mg/kg, about 1 .mu.g/kg to about 1 mg/kg, about 10 .mu.g/kg to about 0.5 mg/kg or about 100 .mu.g/kg to about 0.5 mg/kg. In further embodiments, the doses can range from about 0.1 .mu.g/kg to about 100 .mu.g/kg. In still further embodiments, the doses can range from about 30 .mu.g/kg to about 300 .mu.g/kg. Alternatively, the dose can be administered based on the number of synthetic nanocarriers. For example, useful doses include greater than 10.sup.6, 10.sup.7, 10.sup.8, 10.sup.9 or 10.sup.10 synthetic nanocarriers per dose. Other examples of useful doses include from about 1.times.10.sup.6 to about 1.times.10.sup.10, about 1.times.10.sup.7 to about 1.times.10.sup.9 or about 1.times.10.sup.8 to about 1.times.10.sup.9 synthetic nanocarriers per dose.

[0051] In embodiments, the dose is a "sub-therapeutic dose", which means an amount (e.g. specified number of mass units) of an adjuvant (or adjuvants) that provides a desired therapeutic outcome wherein the sub-therapeutic dose is an amount which is numerically less than would be required to provide substantially the same therapeutic outcome if administered separately. In this context, "separate" or "separately" means that adjuvant (or adjuvants) is not coupled to a synthetic nanocarrier. In an embodiment, the sub-therapeutic dose of R848 comprises from 0.01 micrograms/kg to 100 micrograms/kg, preferably 0.1 micrograms/kg to 10 micrograms/kg, of R848. In an embodiment, the sub-therapeutic dose of CpG containing oligonucleotide comprises from 0.001 .mu.g/kg to 2 mg/kg, preferably from about 0.01 .mu.g/kg to 0.1 mg/kg , of CpG containing oligonucleotide. In yet another embodiment, the sub-therapeutic dose of an immunologically active nucleic acid or a derivative thereof comprises from 0.001 .mu.g/kg to 2 mg/kg, preferably from 0.01 .parallel.g/kg to 0.1 mg/kg. In another embodiment, a sub-therapeutic dose of MPL.RTM. comprises from 0.001 .mu.g/kg to 0.5 mg/kg.

[0052] In other embodiments, the dose is a "toxicity-reduced dose", which means a dose of an adjuvant that provides a particular systemic cytokine release, preferably a particular systemic cytokine release profile, wherein the toxicity-reduced dose is greater than a dose of adjuvant that would be required to provide substantially the same particular systemic cytokine release, preferably a particular systemic cytokine release profile, when administered separately. In this context, "separately" means adjuvant that is not coupled to a synthetic nanocarrier. Additionally, "systemic cytokine release profile" means a pattern of systemic cytokine release, wherein the pattern comprises cytokine levels measured for several different systemic cytokines. In an embodiment, the toxicity-reduced dose of R848 comprises from 0.01 micrograms/kg to 100 micrograms/kg, preferably 0.1 micrograms/kg to 10 micrograms/kg, of R848. In an embodiment, the toxicity-reduced dose of CpG containing oligonucleotide comprises from 0.001 micrograms/kg to 2 mg/kg, preferably 0.01 .mu.g/kg micrograms to 0.1 mg/kg, of CpG containing oligonucleotide. In another embodiment, sub-therapeutic dose of MPL.RTM. comprises from 0.001 .mu.g/kg to 0.5 mg/kg.

[0053] "Antibody response" means any immune response that results in the production or stimulation of B cells and/or the production of antibodies. "Antibody titer" means the production of a measurable level of antibodies. Preferably, the antibody response or generation of the antibody titer is in a human. In some embodiments, the antibodies are antibodies of a certain isotype, such as IgG or a subclass thereof. Methods for measuring antibody titers are known in the art and include Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). Methods for measuring antibody titers are also described in some detail in the Examples. Preferably, the antibody response or antibody titer is specific to an antigen. Such antigen can be coadministered with the adjuvant coupled nanocarrier but can also not be coadministered.

[0054] "Antigen" means a B cell antigen or T cell antigen. In embodiments, antigens are coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers. In other embodiments, antigens are not coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers. In embodiments antigens are coadministered with the synthetic nanocarriers. In other embodiments antigens are not coadministered with the synthetic nanocarriers. "Type(s) of antigens" means molecules that share the same, or substantially the same, antigenic characteristics. In embodiments, antigens of the compositions provided are associated with the disease or condition that is being treated. For example, the antigen can be an allergen (for the treatment of an allergy or allergic condition), a cancer-associated antigen (for the treatment of cancer or a tumor), an infectious agent antigen (for the treatment of an infection, an infectious disease or a chronic infectious disease), etc.

[0055] "At least a portion of the dose" means at least some part of the dose, ranging up to including all of the dose.

[0056] An "at risk" subject is one in which a health practitioner believes has a chance of having a disease or condition as provided herein.

[0057] "B cell antigen" means any antigen that is recognized by a B cell, and triggers an immune response in a B cell (e.g., an antigen that is specifically recognized by a B cell receptor on a B cell). In some embodiments, an antigen that is a T cell antigen is also a B cell antigen. In other embodiments, the T cell antigen is not also a B cell antigen. B cell antigens include, but are not limited to proteins, peptides, small molecules, and carbohydrates. In some embodiments, the B cell antigen comprises a non-protein antigen (i.e., not a protein or peptide antigen). In some embodiments, the B cell antigen comprises a carbohydrate associated with an infectious agent. In some embodiments, the B cell antigen comprises a glycoprotein or glycopeptide associated with an infectious agent. The infectious agent can be a bacterium, virus, fungus, protozoan, parasite or prion. In some embodiments, the B cell antigen comprises a poorly immunogenic antigen. In some embodiments, the B cell antigen comprises an abused substance or a portion thereof. In some embodiments, the B cell antigen comprises an addictive substance or a portion thereof. Addictive substances include, but are not limited to, nicotine, a narcotic, a cough suppressant, a tranquilizer, and a sedative. In some embodiments, the B cell antigen comprises a toxin, such as a toxin from a chemical weapon or natural source, or a pollutant. The B cell antigen may also comprise a hazardous environmental agent. In other embodiments, the B cell antigen comprises an alloantigen, an allergen, a contact sensitizer, a degenerative disease antigen, a hapten, an infectious disease antigen, a cancer antigen, an atopic disease antigen, an autoimmune disease antigen, an addictive substance, a xenoantigen, or a metabolic disease enzyme or enzymatic product thereof.

[0058] "Choosing" means making a selection either directly oneself or indirectly, such as, but not limited to, an unrelated third party that takes an action through reliance on one's words or deeds. Generally, the same entity (e.g., individual, group of individuals acting in concert, or organization) provides a composition provided herein and generates the desired immune response through administration of the composition after also selecting the appropriate dose of the composition.

[0059] "Coadministered" means administering two or more substances to a subject in a manner that is correlated in time, preferably sufficiently correlated in time so as to provide a modulation in an immune response. In embodiments, coadministration may occur through administration of two or more substances in the same dosage form. In other embodiments, coadministration may encompass administration of two or more substances in different dosage forms, but within a specified period of time, preferably within 1 month, more preferably within 1 week, still more preferably within 1 day, and even more preferably within 1 hour.

[0060] "Couple" or "Coupled" or "Couples" (and the like) means to chemically associate one entity (for example a moiety) with another. In some embodiments, the coupling is covalent, meaning that the coupling occurs in the context of the presence of a covalent bond between the two entities. In non-covalent embodiments, the non-covalent coupling is mediated by non-covalent interactions including but not limited to charge interactions, affinity interactions, metal coordination, physical adsorption, host-guest interactions, hydrophobic interactions, TT stacking interactions, hydrogen bonding interactions, van der Waals interactions, magnetic interactions, electrostatic interactions, dipole-dipole interactions, and/or combinations thereof. In embodiments, encapsulation is a form of coupling. In embodiments, at least a portion of a dose of adjuvant(s) is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers, preferably all of a dose of adjuvant(s) is coupled to synthetic nanocarriers. In embodiments, at least a portion of a dose of adjuvant(s) is not coupled to synthetic nanocarriers.

[0061] "Dosage form" means a pharmacologically and/or immunologically active material in a medium, carrier, vehicle, or device suitable for administration to a subject. In embodiments, at least one inventive dosage form can comprise a dose of an adjuvant or multiple adjuvants. In embodiments, more than one dosage form comprise a dose of adjuvant, preferably in such embodiments the more than one dosage forms are co-administered.

[0062] "Encapsulate" means to enclose within a synthetic nanocarrier, preferably enclose completely within a synthetic nanocarrier. Most or all of a substance that is encapsulated is not exposed to the local environment external to the synthetic nanocarrier. Encapsulation is distinct from absorption, which places most or all of a substance on a surface of a synthetic nanocarrier, and leaves the substance exposed to the local environment external to the synthetic nanocarrier.

[0063] "Generating" means causing an action, such as an antibody titer against an antigen or systemic cytokine release, to occur, either directly oneself or indirectly, such as, but not limited to, an unrelated third party that takes an action through reliance on one's words or deeds.

[0064] An "infection" or "infectious disease" is any condition or disease caused by a microorganism, pathogen or other agent, such as a bacterium, fungus, prion or virus.

[0065] "Isolated nucleic acid" means a nucleic acid that is separated from its native environment and present in sufficient quantity to permit its identification or use. An isolated nucleic acid may be one that is (i) amplified in vitro by, for example, polymerase chain reaction (PCR); (ii) recombinantly produced by cloning; (iii) purified, as by cleavage and gel separation; or (iv) synthesized by, for example, chemical synthesis. An isolated nucleic acid is one which is readily manipulable by recombinant DNA techniques well known in the art. Thus, a nucleotide sequence contained in a vector in which 5' and 3' restriction sites are known or for which polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primer sequences have been disclosed is considered isolated but a nucleic acid sequence existing in its native state in its natural host is not. An isolated nucleic acid may be substantially purified, but need not be. For example, a nucleic acid that is isolated within a cloning or expression vector is not pure in that it may comprise only a tiny percentage of the material in the cell in which it resides. Such a nucleic acid is isolated, however, as the term is used herein because it is readily manipulable by standard techniques known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Any of the nucleic acids provided herein may be isolated. In some embodiments, the antigens in the compositions provided herein are present in the form of an isolated nucleic acid, such as an isolated nucleic acid that encodes an antigenic peptide, polypeptide or protein.

[0066] "Isolated peptide, polypeptide or protein" means the polypeptide (or peptide or protein) is separated from its native environment and present in sufficient quantity to permit its identification or use. This means, for example, the polypeptide (or peptide or protein) may be (i) selectively produced by expression cloning or (ii) purified as by chromatography or electrophoresis. Isolated peptides, proteins or polypeptides may be, but need not be, substantially pure. Because an isolated peptide, polypeptide or protein may be admixed with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier in a pharmaceutical preparation, the polypeptide (or peptide or protein) may comprise only a small percentage by weight of the preparation. The polypeptide (or peptide or protein) is nonetheless isolated in that it has been separated from the substances with which it may be associated in living systems, i.e., isolated from other proteins (or peptides or polypeptides). Any of the peptides, polypeptides or proteins provided herein may be isolated. In some embodiments, the antigens in the compositions provided herein are in the form of peptides, polypeptides or proteins.

[0067] "Maximum dimension of a synthetic nanocarrier" means the largest dimension of a nanocarrier measured along any axis of the synthetic nanocarrier. "Minimum dimension of a synthetic nanocarrier" means the smallest dimension of a synthetic nanocarrier measured along any axis of the synthetic nanocarrier. For example, for a spheriodal synthetic nanocarrier, the maximum and minimum dimension of a synthetic nanocarrier would be substantially identical, and would be the size of its diameter. Similarly, for a cuboidal synthetic nanocarrier, the minimum dimension of a synthetic nanocarrier would be the smallest of its height, width or length, while the maximum dimension of a synthetic nanocarrier would be the largest of its height, width or length. In an embodiment, a minimum dimension of at least 75%, preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, of the synthetic nanocarriers in a sample, based on the total number of synthetic nanocarriers in the sample, is greater than 100 nm. In an embodiment, a maximum dimension of at least 75%, preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, of the synthetic nanocarriers in a sample, based on the total number of synthetic nanocarriers in the sample, is equal to or less than 5 .mu.m. Preferably, a minimum dimension of at least 75%, preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, of the synthetic nanocarriers in a sample, based on the total number of synthetic nanocarriers in the sample, is greater than 110 nm, more preferably greater than 120 nm, more preferably greater than 130 nm, and more preferably still greater than 150 nm. Aspects ratios of the maximum and minimum dimensions of inventive synthetic nanocarriers may vary depending on the embodiment. For instance, aspect ratios of the maximum to minimum dimensions of the synthetic nanocarriers may vary from 1:1 to 1,000,000:1, preferably from 1:1 to 100,000:1, more preferably from 1:1 to 1000:1, still preferably from 1:1 to 100:1, and yet more preferably from 1:1 to 10:1. Preferably, a maximum dimension of at least 75%, preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, of the synthetic nanocarriers in a sample, based on the total number of synthetic nanocarriers in the sample is equal to or less than 3 .mu.m, more preferably equal to or less than 2 .mu.m, more preferably equal to or less than 1 .mu.m, more preferably equal to or less than 800 nm, more preferably equal to or less than 600 nm, and more preferably still equal to or less than 500 nm. In preferred embodiments, a maximum dimension of at least 75%, preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, of the synthetic nanocarriers in a sample, based on the total number of synthetic nanocarriers in the sample, is equal to or greater than 100 nm, more preferably equal to or greater than 120, more preferably equal to or greater than 130 nm, more preferably equal to or greater than 140 nm, and more preferably still equal to or greater than 150 nm. Measurement of synthetic nanocarrier sizes is obtained by suspending the synthetic nanocarriers in a liquid (usually aqueous) media and using dynamic light scattering (e.g. using a Brookhaven ZetaPALS instrument).

[0068] "Pharmaceutically acceptable carrier or excipient" means a pharmacologically inactive material used together with the recited synthetic nanocarriers to formulate the inventive compositions. Pharmaceutically acceptable carriers or excipients comprise a variety of materials known in the art, including but not limited to, saccharides (such as glucose, lactose and the like), preservatives such as antimicrobial agents, reconstitution aids, colorants, saline (such as phosphate buffered saline) and buffers. In some embodiments, pharmaceutically acceptable carriers or excipients comprise calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, various diluents, various sugars and types of starch, cellulose derivatives, gelatin, vegetable oils and polyethylene glycols.

[0069] "Subject" means animals, including warm blooded mammals such as humans and primates; avians; domestic household or farm animals such as cats, dogs, sheep, goats, cattle, horses and pigs; laboratory animals such as mice, rats and guinea pigs; fish; reptiles; zoo and wild animals; and the like.

[0070] "Synthetic nanocarrier(s)" means a discrete object that is not found in nature, and that possesses at least one dimension that is less than or equal to 5 microns in size. Albumin nanoparticles are generally included as synthetic nanocarriers, however in certain embodiments the synthetic nanocarriers do not comprise albumin nanoparticles. In embodiments, inventive synthetic nanocarriers do not comprise chitosan.

[0071] A synthetic nanocarrier can be, but is not limited to, one or a plurality of lipid-based nanoparticles(e.g. liposomes) (also referred to herein as lipid nanoparticles, i.e., nanoparticles where the majority of the material that makes up their structure are lipids), polymeric nanoparticles, metallic nanoparticles, surfactant-based emulsions, dendrimers, buckyballs, nanowires, virus-like particles(i.e., particles that are primarily made up of viral structural proteins but that are not infectious or have low infectivity), peptide or protein-based particles (also referred to herein as protein particles, i.e., particles where the majority of the material that makes up their structure are peptides or proteins) (such as albumin nanoparticles) and/or nanoparticles that are developed using a combination of nanomaterials such as lipid-polymer nanoparticles. Synthetic nanocarriers may be a variety of different shapes, including but not limited to spheroidal, cuboidal, pyramidal, oblong, cylindrical, toroidal, and the like. Synthetic nanocarriers according to the invention comprise one or more surfaces, including but not limited to internal surfaces (surfaces generally facing an interior portion of the synthetic nanocarrier) and external surfaces (surfaces generally facing an external environment of the synthetic nanocarrier). Exemplary synthetic nanocarriers that can be adapted for use in the practice of the present invention comprise: (1) the biodegradable nanoparticles disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,543,158 to Gref et al., (2) the polymeric nanoparticles of Published US Patent Application 20060002852 to Saltzman et al., (4) the lithographically constructed nanoparticles of Published US Patent Application 20090028910 to DeSimone et al., (5) the disclosure of WO 2009/051837 to von Andrian et al., or (6) the nanoparticles disclosed in Published US Patent Application 2008/0145441 to Penades et al.

[0072] Synthetic nanocarriers according to the invention that have a minimum dimension of equal to or less than about 100 nm, preferably equal to or less than 100 nm, do not comprise a surface with hydroxyl groups that activate complement or alternatively comprise a surface that consists essentially of moieties that are not hydroxyl groups that activate complement. In a preferred embodiment, synthetic nanocarriers according to the invention that have a minimum dimension of equal to or less than about 100 nm, preferably equal to or less than 100 nm, do not comprise a surface that substantially activates complement or alternatively comprise a surface that consists essentially of moieties that do not substantially activate complement. In a more preferred embodiment, synthetic nanocarriers according to the invention that have a minimum dimension of equal to or less than about 100 nm, preferably equal to or less than 100 nm, do not comprise a surface that activates complement or alternatively comprise a surface that consists essentially of moieties that do not activate complement. In embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers may possess an aspect ratio greater than 1:1, 1:1.2, 1:1.5, 1:2, 1:3, 1:5, 1:7, or greater than 1:10.

[0073] "Systemic cytokine release" means the systemic release of one or more particular cytokines. In some embodiments, the systemic cytokine release is a particular systemic cytokine release profile. In some embodiments, the particular systemic cytokine release, preferably a particular systemic cytokine release profile, is in a human. In embodiments, the compositions and methods provided herein (where at least a portion of a dose of adjuvant is coupled to nanocarriers result in a particular systemic cytokine release profile in a subject). The term "separate" or "separately" is also used to mean adjuvant that is not coupled to any synthetic nanocarriers. Additionally, "systemic cytokine release profile" means a pattern of systemic cytokine release, wherein the pattern comprises cytokine levels measured for several different systemic cytokines. In some embodiments, the particular systemic cytokine release profile comprises the systemic release of TNF-.alpha., IL-6 and/or IL-12. In other embodiments, the particular systemic cytokine release profile comprises the systemic release of IFN-.gamma., IL12 and/or IL-18.

[0074] "T cell antigen" means any antigen that is recognized by and triggers an immune response in a T cell (e.g., an antigen that is specifically recognized by a T cell receptor on a T cell or an NKT cell via presentation of the antigen or portion thereof bound to a Class I or Class II major histocompatability complex molecule (MHC), or bound to a CD1 complex.) In some embodiments, an antigen that is a T cell antigen is also a B cell antigen. In other embodiments, the T cell antigen is not also a B cell antigen. T cell antigens generally are proteins, polypeptides or peptides. T cell antigens may be an antigen that stimulates a CD8+ T cell response, a CD4+ T cell response, or both. The nanocarriers, therefore, in some embodiments can effectively stimulate both types of responses.

[0075] In some embodiments the T cell antigen is a `universal` T cell antigen, or T cell memory antigen, (i.e., one to which a subject has a pre-existing memory and that can be used to boost T cell help to an unrelated antigen, for example an unrelated B cell antigen). Universal T cell antigens include tetanus toxoid, as well as one or more peptides derived from tetanus toxoid, Epstein-Barr virus, or influenza virus. Universal T cell antigens also include a components of influenza virus, such as hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, or nuclear protein, or one or more peptides derived therefrom. In some embodiments, the universal T cell antigen is not one that is presented in a complex with a MHC molecule. In some embodiments, the universal T cell antigen is not complexed with a MHC molecule for presentation to a T helper cell. Accordingly, in some embodiments, the universal T cell antigen is not a T helper cell antigen. However, in other embodiments, the universal T cell antigen is a T helper cell antigen.

[0076] In embodiments, a T-helper cell antigen may comprise one or more peptides obtained or derived from tetanus toxoid, Epstein-Barr virus, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, measles virus, mumps virus, rubella virus, cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, diphtheria toxoid, or a PADRE peptide (known from the work of Sette et al. U.S. Pat. No. 7,202,351). In other embodiments, a T-helper cell antigen may comprise ovalbumin or a peptide obtained or derived therefrom. Preferably, the ovalbumin comprises the amino acid sequence as set forth in Accession No. AAB59956, NP_990483.1, AAA48998, or CAA2371. In other embodiments, the peptide obtained or derived from ovalbumin comprises the following amino acid sequence: H-Ile-Ser-Gln-Ala-Val-His-Ala-Ala-His-Ala-Glu-Ile-Asn-Glu-Ala-G- ly-Arg-OH (SEQ ID NO: 1). In other embodiments, a T-helper cell antigen may comprise one or more lipids, or glycolipids, including but not limited to: .alpha.-galactosylceramide (.alpha.-GalCer), .alpha.-linked glycosphingolipids (from Sphingomonas spp.), galactosyl diacylglycerols (from Borrelia burgdorferi), lypophosphoglycan (from Leishmania donovani), and phosphatidylinositol tetramannoside (PIM4) (from Mycobacterium leprae). For additional lipids and/or glycolipids useful as T-helper cell antigen, see V. Cerundolo et al., "Harnessing invariant NKT cells in vaccination strategies." Nature Rev Immun, 9:28-38 (2009).

[0077] In embodiments, CD4+ T-cell antigens may be derivatives of a CD4+ T-cell antigen that is obtained from a source, such as a natural source. In such embodiments, CD4+ T-cell antigen sequences, such as those peptides that bind to MHC II, may have at least 70%, 80%, 90%, or 95% identity to the antigen obtained from the source. In embodiments, the T cell antigen, preferably a universal T cell antigen or T-helper cell antigen, may be coupled to, or uncoupled from, a synthetic nanocarrier. In some embodiments, the universal T cell antigen or T-helper cell antigen is encapsulated in the synthetic nanocarriers of the inventive compositions.

[0078] "Vaccine" means a composition of matter that improves the immune response to a particular pathogen or disease. A vaccine typically contains factors that stimulate a subject's immune system to recognize a specific antigen as foreign and eliminate it from the subject's body. A vaccine also establishes an immunologic `memory` so the antigen will be quickly recognized and responded to if a person is re-challenged. Vaccines can be prophylactic (for example to prevent future infection by any pathogen), or therapeutic (for example a vaccine against a tumor specific antigen for the treatment of cancer or against an antigen derived from an infectious agent for the treatment of an infection or infectious disease). In embodiments, a vaccine may comprise dosage forms according to the invention. Preferably, in some embodiments, the vaccines comprise an adjuvant (or adjuvants) coupled to a synthetic nanocarrier.

[0079] In specific embodiments, the inventive compositions incorporate adjuvants that comprise agonists for toll-like receptors (TLRs) 7 & 8 ("TLR 7/8 agonists"). Of utility are the TLR 7/8 agonist compounds disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,696,076 to Tomai et al., including but not limited to imidazoquinoline amines, imidazopyridine amines, 6,7-fused cycloalkylimidazopyridine amines, and 1,2-bridged imidazoquinoline amines. Preferred adjuvants comprise imiquimod and R848.

[0080] In specific embodiments, the inventive compositons incorporate adjuvants that comprise a ligand for Toll-like receptor (TLR)-9, such as immunostimulatory DNA molecules comprising CpGs, which induce type I interferon secretion, and stimulate T and B cell activation leading to increased antibody production and cytotoxic T cell responses (Krieg et al., CpG motifs in bacterial DNA trigger direct B cell activation. Nature. 1995. 374:546-549; Chu et al. CpG oligodeoxynucleotides act as adjuvants that switch on T helper 1 (Th1) immunity. J. Exp. Med. 1997. 186:1623-1631; Lipford et al. CpG-containing synthetic oligonucleotides promote B and cytotoxic T cell responses to protein antigen: a new class of vaccine adjuvants. Eur. J. Immunol. 1997. 27:2340-2344; Roman et al. Immunostimulatory DNA sequences function as T helper-1-promoting adjuvants. Nat. Med. 1997. 3:849-854; Davis et al. CpG DNA is a potent enhancer of specific immunity in mice immunized with recombinant hepatitis B surface antigen. J. Immunol. 1998. 160:870-876; Lipford et al., Bacterial DNA as immune cell activator. Trends Microbiol. 1998. 6:496-500. In embodiments, CpGs may comprise modifications intended to enhance stability, such as phosphorothioate linkages, or other modifications, such as modified bases. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,663,153, 6,194,388, 7,262,286, or 7,276,489. In certain embodiments, to stimulate immunity rather than tolerance, a composition provided herein incorporates an adjuvant that promotes DC maturation (needed for priming of naive T cells) and the production of cytokines, such as type I interferons, which promote antibody responses and anti-viral immunity. In some embodiments, the adjuvant comprises a TLR-4 agonist, such as bacterial lipopolysacharide (LPS), VSV-G, and/or HMGB-1. In some embodiments, adjuvants comprise cytokines, which are small proteins or biological factors (in the range of 5 kD-20 kD) that are released by cells and have specific effects on cell-cell interaction, communication and behavior of other cells. In some embodiments, adjuvants comprise proinflammatory stimuli released from necrotic cells (e.g., urate crystals). In some embodiments, adjuvants comprise activated components of the complement cascade (e.g., CD21, CD35, etc.). In some embodiments, adjuvants comprise activated components of immune complexes. The adjuvants also include those that comprise complement receptor agonists, such as a molecule that binds to CD21 or CD35. In some embodiments, the complement receptor agonist induces endogenous complement opsonization of the nanocarrier. Adjuvants also include those that comprise cytokine receptor agonists, such as a cytokine.

[0081] In some embodiments, the cytokine receptor agonist is a small molecule, antibody, fusion protein, or aptamer. In embodiments, adjuvants also may comprise immunostimulatory RNA molecules, such as but not limited to dsRNA or poly I:C (a TLR3 stimulant), and/or those disclosed in F. Heil et al., "Species-Specific Recognition of Single-Stranded RNA via Toll-like Receptor 7 and 8" Science 303(5663), 1526-1529 (2004); J. Vollmer et al., "Immune modulation by chemically modified ribonucleosides and oligoribonucleotides" WO 2008033432 A2; A. Forsbach et al., "Immunostimulatory oligoribonucleotides containing specific sequence motif(s) and targeting the Toll-like receptor 8 pathway" WO 2007062107 A2; E. Uhlmann et al., "Modified oligoribonucleotide analogs with enhanced immunostimulatory activity" U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ. US 2006241076; G. Lipford et al., "Immunostimulatory viral RNA oligonucleotides and use for treating cancer and infections" WO 2005097993 A2; G. Lipford et al., "Immunostimulatory G,U-containing oligoribonucleotides, compositions, and screening methods" WO 2003086280 A2.

[0082] In some embodiments, the adjuvants comprise gel-type adjuvants (e.g., aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, calcium phosphate, etc.), microbial adjuvants (e.g., immunomodulatory DNA sequences that include CpG motifs; immunostimulatory RNA molecules; endotoxins such as monophosphoryl lipid A; exotoxins such as cholera toxin, E. coli heat labile toxin, and pertussis toxin; muramyl dipeptide, etc.); oil-emulsion and emulsifier-based adjuvants (e.g., Freund's Adjuvant, MF59 [Novartis], SAF, etc.); particulate adjuvants (e.g., liposomes, biodegradable microspheres, saponins, etc.); synthetic adjuvants (e.g., nonionic block copolymers, muramyl peptide analogues, polyphosphazene, synthetic polynucleotides, etc.), and/or combinations thereof.

Inventive Compositions

[0083] A wide variety of synthetic nanocarriers can be used according to the invention. In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers are spheres or spheroids. In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers are flat or plate-shaped. In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers are cubes or cuboidal. In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers are ovals or ellipses. In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers are cylinders, cones, or pyramids.

[0084] In some embodiments, it is desirable to use a population of synthetic nanocarriers that is relatively uniform in terms of size, shape, and/or composition so that each synthetic nanocarrier has similar properties. For example, at least 80%, at least 90%, or at least 95% of the synthetic nanocarriers, based on the total number of synthetic nanocarriers, may have a minimum dimension or maximum dimension that falls within 5%, 10%, or 20% of the average diameter or average dimension of the synthetic nanocarriers. In some embodiments, a population of synthetic nanocarriers may be heterogeneous with respect to size, shape, and/or composition.

[0085] Synthetic nanocarriers can be solid or hollow and can comprise one or more layers. In some embodiments, each layer has a unique composition and unique properties relative to the other layer(s). To give but one example, synthetic nanocarriers may have a core/shell structure, wherein the core is one layer (e.g. a polymeric core) and the shell is a second layer (e.g. a lipid bilayer or monolayer). Synthetic nanocarriers may comprise a plurality of different layers.

[0086] In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers may optionally comprise one or more lipids. In some embodiments, a synthetic nanocarrier may comprise a liposome. In some embodiments, a synthetic nanocarrier may comprise a lipid bilayer. In some embodiments, a synthetic nanocarrier may comprise a lipid monolayer. In some embodiments, a synthetic nanocarrier may comprise a micelle. In some embodiments, a synthetic nanocarrier may comprise a core comprising a polymeric matrix surrounded by a lipid layer (e.g., lipid bilayer, lipid monolayer, etc.). In some embodiments, a synthetic nanocarrier may comprise a non-polymeric core (e.g., metal particle, quantum dot, ceramic particle, bone particle, viral particle, proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, etc.) surrounded by a lipid layer (e.g., lipid bilayer, lipid monolayer, etc.).

[0087] In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers can comprise one or more polymers or polymeric matrices. In some embodiments, such a polymer or polymeric matrix can be surrounded by a coating layer (e.g., liposome, lipid monolayer, micelle, etc.). In some embodiments, various elements of the synthetic nanocarriers can be coupled with the polymer or polymeric matrix.

[0088] In some embodiments, an element, such as an immunofeature surface, targeting moiety, antigen, adjuvant, and/or oligonucleotide can be covalently associated with a polymeric matrix. In some embodiments, covalent association is mediated by a linker. In some embodiments, an element can be noncovalently associated with a polymeric matrix. For example, in some embodiments, an element can be encapsulated within, surrounded by, and/or dispersed throughout a polymeric matrix. Alternatively or additionally, an element can be associated with a polymeric matrix by hydrophobic interactions, charge interactions, van der Waals forces, etc.

[0089] A wide variety of polymers and methods for forming polymeric matrices therefrom are known conventionally. In general, a polymeric matrix comprises one or more polymers. Polymers may be natural or unnatural (synthetic) polymers. Polymers may be homopolymers or copolymers comprising two or more monomers. In terms of sequence, copolymers may be random, block, or comprise a combination of random and block sequences. Typically, polymers in accordance with the present invention are organic polymers.

[0090] Examples of polymers suitable for use in the present invention include, but are not limited to polyethylenes, polycarbonates (e.g. poly(1,3-dioxan-2one)), polyanhydrides (e.g. poly(sebacic anhydride)), polypropylfumerates, polyamides (e.g. polycaprolactam), polyacetals, polyethers, polyesters (e.g., polylactide, polyglycolide, polylactide-co-glycolide, polycaprolactone, polyhydroxyacid (e.g., poly(.beta.-hydroxyalkanoate)), poly(orthoesters), polycyanoacrylates, polyvinyl alcohols, polyurethanes, polyphosphazenes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, polyureas, polystyrenes, polyamines, polylysine, polylysine-PEG copolymers, and poly(ethyleneimine), poly(ethylene imine)-PEG copolymers.

[0091] In some embodiments, polymers in accordance with the present invention include polymers which have been approved for use in humans by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under 21 C.F.R. .sctn. 177.2600, including but not limited to polyesters (e.g., polylactic acid, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), polycaprolactone, polyvalerolactone, poly(1,3-dioxan-2one)); polyanhydrides (e.g., poly(sebacic anhydride)); polyethers (e.g., polyethylene glycol); polyurethanes; polymethacrylates; polyacrylates; and polycyanoacrylates.

[0092] In some embodiments, polymers can be hydrophilic. For example, polymers may comprise anionic groups (e.g., phosphate group, sulphate group, carboxylate group); cationic groups (e.g., quaternary amine group); or polar groups (e.g., hydroxyl group, thiol group, amine group). In some embodiments, a synthetic nanocarrier comprising a hydrophilic polymeric matrix generates a hydrophilic environment within the synthetic nanocarrier. In some embodiments, polymers can be hydrophobic. In some embodiments, a synthetic nanocarrier comprising a hydrophobic polymeric matrix generates a hydrophobic environment within the synthetic nanocarrier. Selection of the hydrophilicity or hydrophobicity of the polymer may have an impact on the nature of materials that are incorporated (e.g. coupled) within the synthetic nanocarrier.

[0093] In some embodiments, polymers may be modified with one or more moieties and/or functional groups. A variety of moieties or functional groups can be used in accordance with the present invention. In some embodiments, polymers may be modified with polyethylene glycol (PEG), with a carbohydrate, and/or with acyclic polyacetals derived from polysaccharides (Papisov, 2001, ACS Symposium Series, 786:301). Certain embodiments may be made using the general teachings of U.S. Pat. No. 5,543,158 to Gref et al., or WO publication WO2009/051837 by Von Andrian et al.

[0094] In some embodiments, polymers may be modified with a lipid or fatty acid group. In some embodiments, a fatty acid group may be one or more of butyric, caproic, caprylic, capric, lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, arachidic, behenic, or lignoceric acid. In some embodiments, a fatty acid group may be one or more of palmitoleic, oleic, vaccenic, linoleic, alpha-linoleic, gamma-linoleic, arachidonic, gadoleic, arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic, docosahexaenoic, or erucic acid.

[0095] In some embodiments, polymers may be polyesters, including copolymers comprising lactic acid and glycolic acid units, such as poly(lactic acid-co-glycolic acid) and poly(lactide-co-glycolide), collectively referred to herein as "PLGA"; and homopolymers comprising glycolic acid units, referred to herein as "PGA," and lactic acid units, such as poly-L-lactic acid, poly-D-lactic acid, poly-D,L-lactic acid, poly-L-lactide, poly-D-lactide, and poly-D,L-lactide, collectively referred to herein as "PLA." In some embodiments, exemplary polyesters include, for example, polyhydroxyacids; PEG copolymers and copolymers of lactide and glycolide (e.g., PLA-PEG copolymers, PGA-PEG copolymers, PLGA-PEG copolymers, and derivatives thereof. In some embodiments, polyesters include, for example, poly(caprolactone), poly(caprolactone)-PEG copolymers, poly(L-lactide-co-L-lysine), poly(serine ester), poly(4-hydroxy-L-proline ester), poly[.alpha.-(4-aminobutyl)-L-glycolic acid], and derivatives thereof.

[0096] In some embodiments, a polymer may be PLGA. PLGA is a biocompatible and biodegradable co-polymer of lactic acid and glycolic acid, and various forms of PLGA are characterized by the ratio of lactic acid:glycolic acid. Lactic acid can be L-lactic acid, D-lactic acid, or D,L-lactic acid. The degradation rate of PLGA can be adjusted by altering the lactic acid:glycolic acid ratio. In some embodiments, PLGA to be used in accordance with the present invention is characterized by a lactic acid:glycolic acid ratio of approximately 85:15, approximately 75:25, approximately 60:40, approximately 50:50, approximately 40:60, approximately 25:75, or approximately 15:85.

[0097] In some embodiments, polymers may be one or more acrylic polymers. In certain embodiments, acrylic polymers include, for example, acrylic acid and methacrylic acid copolymers, methyl methacrylate copolymers, ethoxyethyl methacrylates, cyanoethyl methacrylate, aminoalkyl methacrylate copolymer, poly(acrylic acid), poly(methacrylic acid), methacrylic acid alkylamide copolymer, poly(methyl methacrylate), poly(methacrylic acid anhydride), methyl methacrylate, polymethacrylate, poly(methyl methacrylate) copolymer, polyacrylamide, aminoalkyl methacrylate copolymer, glycidyl methacrylate copolymers, polycyanoacrylates, and combinations comprising one or more of the foregoing polymers. The acrylic polymer may comprise fully-polymerized copolymers of acrylic and methacrylic acid esters with a low content of quaternary ammonium groups.

[0098] In some embodiments, polymers can be cationic polymers. In general, cationic polymers are able to condense and/or protect negatively charged strands of nucleic acids (e.g. DNA, or derivatives thereof). Amine-containing polymers such as poly(lysine) (Zauner et al., 1998, Adv. Drug Del. Rev., 30:97; and Kabanov et al., 1995, Bioconjugate Chem., 6:7), poly(ethylene imine) (PEI; Boussif et al., 1995, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 1995, 92:7297), and poly(amidoamine) dendrimers (Kukowska-Latallo et al., 1996, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 93:4897; Tang et al., 1996, Bioconjugate Chem., 7:703; and Haensler et al., 1993, Bioconjugate Chem., 4:372) are positively-charged at physiological pH, form ion pairs with nucleic acids, and mediate transfection in a variety of cell lines. In embodiments, the inventive synthetic nanocarriers may not comprise (or may exclude) cationic polymers.

[0099] In some embodiments, polymers can be degradable polyesters bearing cationic side chains (Putnam et al., 1999, Macromolecules, 32:3658; Barrera et al., 1993, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 115:11010; Kwon et al., 1989, Macromolecules, 22:3250; Lim et al., 1999, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 121:5633; and Zhou et al., 1990, Macromolecules, 23:3399). Examples of these polyesters include poly(L-lactide-co-L-lysine) (Barrera et al., 1993, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 115:11010), poly(serine ester) (Zhou et al., 1990, Macromolecules, 23:3399), poly(4-hydroxy-L-proline ester) (Putnam et al., 1999, Macromolecules, 32:3658; and Lim et al., 1999, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 121:5633), and poly(4-hydroxy-L-proline ester) (Putnam et al., 1999, Macromolecules, 32:3658; and Lim et al., 1999, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 121:5633).

[0100] The properties of these and other polymers and methods for preparing them are well known in the art (see, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,123,727; 5,804,178; 5,770,417; 5,736,372; 5,716,404; 6,095,148; 5,837,752; 5,902,599; 5,696,175; 5,514,378; 5,512,600; 5,399,665; 5,019,379; 5,010,167; 4,806,621; 4,638,045; and 4,946,929; Wang et al., 2001, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 123:9480; Lim et al., 2001, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 123:2460; Langer, 2000, Acc. Chem. Res., 33:94; Langer, 1999, J. Control. Release, 62:7; and Uhrich et al., 1999, Chem. Rev., 99:3181). More generally, a variety of methods for synthesizing certain suitable polymers are described in Concise Encyclopedia of Polymer Science and Polymeric Amines and Ammonium Salts, Ed. by Goethals, Pergamon Press, 1980; Principles of Polymerization by Odian, John Wiley & Sons, Fourth Edition, 2004; Contemporary Polymer Chemistry by Allcock et al., Prentice-Hall, 1981; Deming et al., 1997, Nature, 390:386; and in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,506,577, 6,632,922, 6,686,446, and 6,818,732.

[0101] In some embodiments, polymers can be linear or branched polymers. In some embodiments, polymers can be dendrimers. In some embodiments, polymers can be substantially cross-linked to one another. In some embodiments, polymers can be substantially free of cross-links. In some embodiments, polymers can be used in accordance with the present invention without undergoing a cross-linking step. It is further to be understood that inventive synthetic nanocarriers may comprise block copolymers, graft copolymers, blends, mixtures, and/or adducts of any of the foregoing and other polymers. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the polymers listed herein represent an exemplary, not comprehensive, list of polymers that can be of use in accordance with the present invention.

[0102] In some embodiments, the synthetic nanocarriers comprise one or more polymers. The polymeric synthetic nanocarriers, therefore, can also include those described in WO publication WO2009/051837 by Von Andrian et al., including, but not limited to those, with one or more hydrophilic components. Preferably, the one or more polymers comprise a polyester, such as a poly(lactic acid), poly(glycolic acid), poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), or polycaprolactone. More preferably, the one or more polymers comprise or further comprise a polyester coupled to a hydrophilic polymer, such as a polyether. In embodiments, the polyether comprises polyethylene glycol. Still more preferably, the one or more polymers comprise a polyester and a polyester coupled to a hydrophilic polymer, such as a polyether. In other embodiments, the one or more polymers are coupled to one or more antigens and/or one or more adjuvants. In embodiments, at least some of the polymers are coupled to the antigen(s) and/or at least some of the polymers are coupled to the adjuvant(s). Preferably, when there are more than one type of polymer, one of the types of polymer is coupled to the antigen(s). In embodiments, one of the other types of polymer is coupled to the adjuvant(s). For example, in embodiments, when the nanocarriers comprise a polyester and a polyester coupled to a hydrophilic polymer, such as a polyether, the polyester is coupled to the adjuvant, while the polyester coupled to the hydrophilic polymer, such as a polyether, is coupled to the antigen(s). In embodiments, where the nanocarriers comprise a T helper cell antigen, the T helper cell antigen can be encapsulated in the nanocarrier.

[0103] In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers may not comprise a polymeric component. In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers may comprise metal particles, quantum dots, ceramic particles, etc. In some embodiments, a non-polymeric synthetic nanocarrier is an aggregate of non-polymeric components, such as an aggregate of metal atoms (e.g., gold atoms).

[0104] In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers may optionally comprise one or more amphiphilic entities. In some embodiments, an amphiphilic entity can promote the production of synthetic nanocarriers with increased stability, improved uniformity, or increased viscosity. In some embodiments, amphiphilic entities can be associated with the interior surface of a lipid membrane (e.g., lipid bilayer, lipid monolayer, etc.). Many amphiphilic entities known in the art are suitable for use in making synthetic nanocarriers in accordance with the present invention. Such amphiphilic entities include, but are not limited to, phosphoglycerides; phosphatidylcholines; dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine (DPPC); dioleylphosphatidyl ethanolamine (DOPE); dioleyloxypropyltriethylammonium (DOTMA); dioleoylphosphatidylcholine; cholesterol; cholesterol ester; diacylglycerol; diacylglycerolsuccinate; diphosphatidyl glycerol (DPPG); hexanedecanol; fatty alcohols such as polyethylene glycol (PEG); polyoxyethylene-9-lauryl ether; a surface active fatty acid, such as palmitic acid or oleic acid; fatty acids; fatty acid monoglycerides; fatty acid diglycerides; fatty acid amides; sorbitan trioleate (Span.RTM.85) glycocholate; sorbitan monolaurate (Span.RTM.20); polysorbate 20 (Tween.RTM.20); polysorbate 60 (Tween.RTM.60); polysorbate 65 (Tween.RTM.65); polysorbate 80 (Tween.RTM.80); polysorbate 85 (Tween.RTM.85); polyoxyethylene monostearate; surfactin; a poloxomer; a sorbitan fatty acid ester such as sorbitan trioleate; lecithin; lysolecithin; phosphatidylserine; phosphatidylinositol;sphingomyelin; phosphatidylethanolamine (cephalin); cardiolipin; phosphatidic acid; cerebrosides; dicetylphosphate; dipalmitoylphosphatidylglycerol; stearylamine; dodecylamine; hexadecyl-amine; acetyl palmitate; glycerol ricinoleate; hexadecyl sterate; isopropyl myristate; tyloxapol; poly(ethylene glycol)5000-phosphatidylethanolamine; poly(ethylene glycol)400-monostearate; phospholipids; synthetic and/or natural detergents having high surfactant properties; deoxycholates; cyclodextrins; chaotropic salts; ion pairing agents; and combinations thereof. An amphiphilic entity component may be a mixture of different amphiphilic entities. Those skilled in the art will recognize that this is an exemplary, not comprehensive, list of substances with surfactant activity. Any amphiphilic entity may be used in the production of synthetic nanocarriers to be used in accordance with the present invention.

[0105] In some embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers may optionally comprise one or more carbohydrates. Carbohydrates may be natural or synthetic. A carbohydrate may be a derivatized natural carbohydrate. In certain embodiments, a carbohydrate comprises monosaccharide or disaccharide, including but not limited to glucose, fructose, galactose, ribose, lactose, sucrose, maltose, trehalose, cellbiose, mannose, xylose, arabinose, glucoronic acid, galactoronic acid, mannuronic acid, glucosamine, galatosamine, and neuramic acid. In certain embodiments, a carbohydrate is a polysaccharide, including but not limited to pullulan, cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), hydroxycellulose (HC), methylcellulose (MC), dextran, cyclodextran, glycogen, starch, hydroxyethylstarch, carageenan, glycon, amylose, chitosan, N,O-carboxylmethylchitosan, algin and alginic acid, starch, chitin, heparin, inulin, konjac, glucommannan, pustulan, heparin, hyaluronic acid, curdlan, and xanthan. In embodiments, the inventive synthetic nanocarriers do not comprise (or specifically exclude) carbohydrates, such as a polysaccharide. In certain embodiments, the carbohydrate may comprise a carbohydrate derivative such as a sugar alcohol, including but not limited to mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol, maltitol, and lactitol.

[0106] Compositions according to the invention comprise inventive synthetic nanocarriers in combination with pharmaceutically acceptable excipients, such as preservatives, buffers, saline, or phosphate buffered saline. The compositions may be made using conventional pharmaceutical manufacturing and compounding techniques to arrive at useful dosage forms. In an embodiment, inventive synthetic nanocarriers are suspended in sterile saline solution for injection together with a preservative.

[0107] In embodiments, when preparing synthetic nanocarriers as carriers for agents (e.g., antigen or adjuvant) for use in vaccines, methods for coupling the agents to the synthetic nanocarriers may be useful. If the agent is a small molecule it may be of advantage to attach the agent to a polymer prior to the assembly of the synthetic nanocarriers. In embodiments, it may also be an advantage to prepare the synthetic nanocarriers with surface groups that are used to couple the agent to the synthetic nanocarrier through the use of these surface groups rather than attaching the agent to a polymer and then using this polymer conjugate in the construction of synthetic nanocarriers. A variety of reactions can be used for the purpose of attaching agents to synthetic nanocarriers.

[0108] In certain embodiments, the coupling can be a covalent linker. In embodiments, peptides according to the invention can be covalently coupled to the external surface via a 1,2,3-triazole linker formed by the 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction of azido groups on the surface of the nanocarrier with antigen or adjuvant containing an alkyne group or by the 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction of alkynes on the surface of the nanocarrier with antigens or adjuvants containing an azido group. Such cycloaddition reactions are preferably performed in the presence of a Cu(I) catalyst along with a suitable Cu(I)-ligand and a reducing agent to reduce Cu(II) compound to catalytic active Cu(I) compound. This Cu(I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) can also be referred as the click reaction.

[0109] Additionally, the covalent coupling may comprise a covalent linker that comprises an amide linker, a disulfide linker, a thioether linker, a hydrazone linker, a hydrazide linker, an imine or oxime linker, an urea or thiourea linker, an amidine linker, an amine linker, and a sulfonamide linker.

[0110] An amide linker is formed via an amide bond between an amine on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with the carboxylic acid group of a second component such as the nanocarrier. The amide bond in the linker can be made using any of the conventional amide bond forming reactions with suitably protected amino acids or antigens or adjuvants and activated carboxylic acid such N-hydroxysuccinimide-activated ester.

[0111] A disulfide linker is made via the formation of a disulfide (S--S) bond between two sulfur atoms of the form, for instance, of R1-S--S--R2. A disulfide bond can be formed by thiol exchange of an antigen or adjuvant containing thiol/mercaptan group(-SH) with another activated thiol group on a polymer or nanocarrier or a nanocarrier containing thiol/mercaptan groups with a antigen or adjuvant containing activated thiol group.

[0112] A triazole linker, specifically a 1,2,3-triazole of the form

##STR00001##

wherein R1 and R2 may be any chemical entities, is made by the 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction of an azide attached to a first component such as the nanocarrier with a terminal alkyne attached to a second component such as the peptide. The 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction is performed with or without a catalyst, preferably with Cu(I)-catalyst, which links the two components through a 1,2,3-triazole function. This chemistry is described in detail by Sharpless et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 41(14), 2596, (2002) and Meldal, et al, Chem. Rev., 2008, 108(8), 2952-3015 and is often referred to as a "click" reaction or CuAAC.

[0113] In embodiments, a polymer containing an azide or alkyne group, terminal to the polymer chain is prepared. This polymer is then used to prepare a synthetic nanocarrier in such a manner that a plurality of the alkyne or azide groups are positioned on the surface of that nanocarrier. Alternatively, the synthetic nanocarrier can be prepared by another route, and subsequently functionalized with alkyne or azide groups. The antigen or adjuvant is prepared with the presence of either an alkyne (if the polymer contains an azide) or an azide (if the polymer contains an alkyne) group. The antigen or adjuvant is then allowed to react with the nanocarrier via the 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction with or without a catalyst which covalently couples the antigen or adjuvant to the particle through the 1,4-disubstituted 1,2,3-triazole linker.

[0114] A thioether linker is made by the formation of a sulfur-carbon (thioether) bond in the form, for instance, of R1-S--R2. Thioether can be made by either alkylation of a thiol/mercaptan (--SH) group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with an alkylating group such as halide or epoxide on a second component such as the nanocarrier. Thioether linkers can also be formed by Michael addition of a thiol/mercaptan group on one component such as a antigen or adjuvant to an electron-deficient alkene group on a second component such as a polymer containing a maleimide group or vinyl sulfone group as the Michael acceptor. In another way, thioether linkers can be prepared by the radical thiol-ene reaction of a thiol/mercaptan group on one component such as a antigen or adjuvant with an alkene group on a second component such as a polymer or nanocarrier.

[0115] A hydrazone linker is made by the reaction of a hydrazide group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with an aldehyde/ketone chemistry group on the second component such as the nanocarrier.

[0116] A hydrazide linker is formed by the reaction of a hydrazine group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with a carboxylic acid group on the second component such as the nanocarrier. Such reaction is generally performed using chemistry similar to the formation of amide bond where the carboxylic acid is activated with an activating reagent.

[0117] An imine or oxime linker is formed by the reaction of an amine or N-alkoxyamine (or aminooxy) group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with an aldehyde or ketone group on the second component such as the nanocarrier.

[0118] An urea or thiourea linker is prepared by the reaction of an amine group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with an isocyanate or thioisocyanate group on the second component such as the nanocarrier.

[0119] An amidine linker is prepared by the reaction of an amine group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with an imidoester group on the second component such as the nanocarrier.

[0120] An amine linker is made by the alkylation reaction of an amine group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with an alkylating group such as halide, epoxide, or sulfonate ester group on the second component such as the nanocarrier. Alternatively, an amine linker can also be made by reductive amination of an amine group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with an aldehyde or ketone group on the second component such as the nanocarrier with a suitable reducing reagent such as sodium cyanoborohydride or sodium triacetoxyborohydride.

[0121] A sulfonamide linker is made by the reaction of an amine group on one component such as the antigen or adjuvant with a sulfonyl halide (such as sulfonyl chloride) group on the second component such as the nanocarrier.

[0122] A sulfone linker is made by Michael addition of a nucleophile to a vinyl sulfone. Either the vinyl sulfone or the nucleophile may be on the surface of the nanoparticle or attached to the antigen or adjuvant.

[0123] The antigen or adjuvant can also be conjugated to the nanocarrier via non-covalent conjugation methods. For examples, a negative charged antigen or adjuvant can be conjugated to a positive charged nanocarrier through electrostatic adsorption. An antigen or adjuvant containing a metal ligand can also be conjugated to a nanocarrier containing a metal complex via a metal-ligand complex.

[0124] In embodiments, the antigen or adjuvant can be attached to a polymer, for example polylactic acid-block-polyethylene glycol, prior to the assembly of the synthetic nanocarrier or the synthetic nanocarrier can be formed with reactive or activatible groups on its surface. In the latter case, the antigen or adjuvant is prepared with a group which is compatible with the attachment chemistry that is presented by the synthetic nanocarriers' surface. In other embodiments, agents, such as a peptide antigen, can be attached to VLPs or liposomes using a suitable linker. A linker is a compound or reagent that capable of coupling two molecules together. In an embodiment, the linker can be a homobifuntional or heterobifunctional reagent as described in Hermanson 2008. For example, an VLP or liposome synthetic nanocarrier containing a carboxylic group on the surface can be treated with a homobifunctional linker, adipic dihydrazide (ADH), in the presence of EDC to form the corresponding synthetic nanocarrier with the ADH linker. The resulting ADH linked synthetic nanocarrier is then conjugated with an agent containing an acid group via the other end of the ADH linker on the NC to produce the corresponding VLP or liposome peptide conjugate.

[0125] For detailed descriptions of available conjugation methods, see Hermanson G T "Bioconjugate Techniques", 2nd Edition Published by Academic Press, Inc., 2008. In addition to covalent attachment the antigen or adjuvant can be coupled by adsorbtion to a pre-formed synthetic nanocarrier or it can be coupled by encapsulation during the formation of the synthetic nanocarrier.

Methods of Making and Using the Inventive Methods and Related Compositions

[0126] Synthetic nanocarriers may be prepared using a wide variety of methods known in the art. For example, synthetic nanocarriers can be formed by methods as nanoprecipitation, flow focusing using fluidic channels, spray drying, single and double emulsion solvent evaporation, solvent extraction, phase separation, milling, microemulsion procedures, microfabrication, nanofabrication, sacrificial layers, simple and complex coacervation, and other methods well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Alternatively or additionally, aqueous and organic solvent syntheses for monodisperse semiconductor, conductive, magnetic, organic, and other nanomaterials have been described (Pellegrino et al., 2005, Small, 1:48; Murray et al., 2000, Ann. Rev. Mat. Sci., 30:545; and Trindade et al., 2001, Chem. Mat., 13:3843). Additional methods have been described in the literature (see, e.g., Doubrow, Ed., "Microcapsules and Nanoparticles in Medicine and Pharmacy," CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1992; Mathiowitz et al., 1987, J. Control. Release, 5:13; Mathiowitz et al., 1987, Reactive Polymers, 6:275; and Mathiowitz et al., 1988, J. Appl. Polymer Sci., 35:755, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,578,325 and 6,007,845; P. Paolicelli et al., "Surface-modified PLGA-based Nanoparticles that can Efficiently Associate and Deliver Virus-like Particles" Nanomedicine. 5(6):843-853 (2010)).

[0127] Various materials may be encapsulated into synthetic nanocarriers as desirable using a variety of methods including but not limited to C. Astete et al., "Synthesis and characterization of PLGA nanoparticles" J. Biomater. Sci. Polymer Edn, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 247-289 (2006); K. Avgoustakis "Pegylated Poly(Lactide) and Poly(Lactide-Co-Glycolide) Nanoparticles: Preparation, Properties and Possible Applications in Drug Delivery" Current Drug Delivery 1:321-333 (2004); C. Reis et al., "Nanoencapsulation I. Methods for preparation of drug-loaded polymeric nanoparticles" Nanomedicine 2:8-21 (2006); P. Paolicelli et al., "Surface-modified PLGA-based Nanoparticles that can Efficiently Associate and Deliver Virus-like Particles" Nanomedicine. 5(6):843-853 (2010). Other methods suitable for encapsulating materials, such as oligonucleotides, into synthetic nanocarriers may be used, including without limitation methods disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,632,671 to Unger Oct. 14, 2003.

[0128] In certain embodiments, synthetic nanocarriers are prepared by a nanoprecipitation process or spray drying. Conditions used in preparing synthetic nanocarriers may be altered to yield particles of a desired size or property (e.g., hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity, external morphology, "stickiness," shape, etc.). The method of preparing the synthetic nanocarriers and the conditions (e.g., solvent, temperature, concentration, air flow rate, etc.) used may depend on the materials to be coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers and/or the composition of the polymer matrix.

[0129] If particles prepared by any of the above methods have a size range outside of the desired range, particles can be sized, for example, using a sieve.

[0130] Elements of the inventive synthetic nanocarriers--such as targeting moieties, polymeric matrices, antigens, adjuvants and the like--may be coupled to the synthetic nanocarrier, e.g., by one or more covalent bonds, or may be coupled by means of one or more linkers. Additional methods of functionalizing synthetic nanocarriers may be adapted from Published US Patent Application 2006/0002852 to Saltzman et al., Published US Patent Application 2009/0028910 to DeSimone et al., or Published International Patent Application WO/2008/127532 A1 to Murthy et al.

[0131] Alternatively or additionally, synthetic nanocarriers can be coupled to an element, such as immunofeature surfaces, targeting moieties, adjuvants, various antigens, etc. directly or indirectly via non-covalent interactions. In non-covalent embodiments, the non-covalent coupling is mediated by non-covalent interactions including but not limited to charge interactions, affinity interactions, metal coordination, physical adsorption, host-guest interactions, hydrophobic interactions, TT stacking interactions, hydrogen bonding interactions, van der Waals interactions, magnetic interactions, electrostatic interactions, dipole-dipole interactions, and/or combinations thereof. Such couplings may be arranged to be on an external surface or an internal surface of an inventive synthetic nanocarrier. In embodiments, encapsulation and/or absorption is a form of coupling.

[0132] In embodiments, the inventive synthetic nanocarriers can be combined with other adjuvants by admixing in the same vehicle or delivery system. Such adjuvants may include, but are not limited to mineral salts, such as alum, alum combined with monphosphoryl lipid (MPL) A of Enterobacteria, such as Escherihia coli, Salmonella minnesota, Salmonella typhimurium, or Shigella flexneri or specifically with MPL.RTM. (AS04), AS15, MPL A of above-mentioned bacteria separately, saponins, such as QS-21,Quil-A, ISCOMs, ISCOMATRIX.TM., emulsions such as MF59.TM., Montanide.RTM. ISA 51 and ISA 720, AS02 (QS21+squalene+MPL.RTM.), liposomes and liposomal formulations such as ASO1, synthesized or specifically prepared microparticles and microcarriers such as bacteria-derived outer membrane vesicles (OMV) of N. gonorrheae, Chlamydia trachomatis and others, or chitosan particles, depot-forming agents, such as Pluronic.RTM. block co-polymers, specifically modified or prepared peptides, such as muramyl dipeptide, aminoalkyl glucosaminide 4-phosphates, such as RC529, or proteins, such as bacterial toxoids or toxin fragments. Additional useful adjuvants may be found in WO 2002/032450; U.S. Pat. No. 7,357,936 "Adjuvant Systems and Vaccines"; U.S. Pat. No. 7,147,862 "Vaccine composition containing adjuvants"; U.S. Pat. No. 6,544,518 "Vaccines"; U.S. Pat. No. 5,750,110 "Vaccine composition containing adjuvants." The doses of such other adjuvants can be determined using conventional dose ranging studies. In embodiments, adjuvant that is not coupled to the recited synthetic nanocarriers, if any, may be the same or different from adjuvant that is coupled to the synthetic nanocarriers

[0133] In embodiments, any adjuvant coupled to the inventive synthetic nanocarriers can be different, similar or identical to those not coupled to a nanocarrier (with or without antigen, utilizing or not utilizing another delivery vehicle). The adjuvants (coupled and not coupled) can be administered separately at a different time-point and/or at a different body location and/or by a different immunization route or with another adjuvant-carrying synthetic nanocarrier (with or without antigen) administered separately at a different time-point and/or at a different body location and/or by a different immunization route.

[0134] Populations of synthetic nanocarriers may be combined to form pharmaceutical dosage forms according to the present invention using traditional pharmaceutical mixing methods. These include liquid-liquid mixing in which two or more suspensions, each containing one or more subset of nanocarriers, are directly combined or are brought together via one or more vessels containing diluent. As synthetic nanocarriers may also be produced or stored in a powder form, dry powder-powder mixing could be performed as could the re-suspension of two or more powders in a common media. Depending on the properties of the nanocarriers and their interaction potentials, there may be advantages conferred to one or another route of mixing.

[0135] Typical inventive compositions that can be used in the inventive methods comprise synthetic nanocarriers may comprise inorganic or organic buffers (e.g., sodium or potassium salts of phosphate, carbonate, acetate, or citrate) and pH adjustment agents (e.g., hydrochloric acid, sodium or potassium hydroxide, salts of citrate or acetate, amino acids and their salts) antioxidants (e.g., ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol), surfactants (e.g., polysorbate 20, polysorbate 80, polyoxyethylene9-10 nonyl phenol, sodium desoxycholate), solution and/or cryo/lyo stabilizers (e.g., sucrose, lactose, mannitol, trehalose), osmotic adjustment agents (e.g., salts or sugars), antibacterial agents (e.g., benzoic acid, phenol, gentamicin), antifoaming agents (e.g., polydimethylsilozone), preservatives (e.g., thimerosal, 2-phenoxyethanol, EDTA), polymeric stabilizers and viscosity-adjustment agents (e.g., polyvinylpyrrolidone, poloxamer 488, carboxymethylcellulose) and co-solvents (e.g., glycerol, polyethylene glycol, ethanol).

[0136] Compositions that can be used in the methods according to the invention comprise inventive synthetic nanocarriers in combination with pharmaceutically acceptable excipients. The compositions may be made using conventional pharmaceutical manufacturing and compounding techniques to arrive at useful dosage forms. Techniques suitable for use in practicing the present invention may be found in Handbook of Industrial Mixing: Science and Practice, Edited by Edward L. Paul, Victor A. Atiemo-Obeng, and Suzanne M. Kresta, 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; and Pharmaceutics: The Science of Dosage Form Design, 2nd Ed. Edited by M. E. Auten, 2001, Churchill Livingstone. In an embodiment, inventive synthetic nanocarriers are suspended in sterile saline solution for injection together with a preservative.

[0137] It is to be understood that the compositions that can be used in the methods of the invention can be made in any suitable manner, and the invention is in no way limited to the use of compositions that can be produced using the methods described herein. Selection of an appropriate method may require attention to the properties of the particular moieties being associated.

[0138] In some embodiments, inventive synthetic nanocarriers are manufactured under sterile conditions or are terminally sterilized. This can ensure that resulting composition are sterile and non-infectious, thus improving safety when compared to non-sterile compositions. This provides a valuable safety measure, especially when subjects receiving synthetic nanocarriers have immune defects, are suffering from infection, and/or are susceptible to infection. In some embodiments, inventive synthetic nanocarriers may be lyophilized and stored in suspension or as lyophilized powder depending on the formulation strategy for extended periods without losing activity.

[0139] The compositions that can be used in the inventive methods may be administered by a variety of routes of administration, including but not limited to subcutaneous, intramuscular, intradermal, oral, intranasal, transmucosal, sublingual, rectal, ophthalmic, transdermal, transcutaneous or by a combination of these routes.

[0140] Doses of dosage forms contain varying amounts of populations of synthetic nanocarriers and/or varying amounts of adjuvants and/or antigens, according to the invention. The amount of synthetic nanocarriers and/or adjuvants and/or antigens present in the inventive dosage forms can be varied according to the nature of the adjuvants and/or antigens, the therapeutic benefit to be accomplished, and other such parameters. In some embodiments, the doses of the dosage forms are sub-therapeutic or toxicity-reduced doses. In other embodiments, the doses are amounts effective to generate one or more immune responses as provided herein. In some embodiments, the immune response(s) is an antibody response or generation of an antibody titer and/or systemic cytokine release. In embodiments, dose ranging studies can be conducted to establish optimal therapeutic amount of the population of synthetic nanocarriers and/or the amount of adjuvants and/or antigens to be present in the dosage form. In embodiments, the synthetic nanocarriers and/or the adjuvants and/or antigens are present in the dosage form in an amount effective to generate an immune response as provided herein upon administration to a subject. In some embodiments, the subject is a human. It may be possible to determine amounts of the adjuvants and/or antigens effective to generate an immune response as provided herein using conventional dose ranging studies and techniques in subjects. Inventive dosage forms may be administered at a variety of frequencies. In a preferred embodiment, at least one administration of the dosage form is sufficient to generate a pharmacologically relevant response. In more preferred embodiment, at least two administrations, at least three administrations, or at least four administrations, of the dosage form are utilized to ensure a pharmacologically relevant response.

[0141] The compositions and methods described herein can be used to induce, enhance, stimulate, modulate, direct or redirect an immune response. The compositions and methods described herein can be used in the diagnosis, prophylaxis and/or treatment of conditions such as cancers, infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, degenerative diseases, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, immunological diseases, or other disorders and/or conditions. The compositions and methods described herein can also be used for the prophylaxis or treatment of an addiction, such as an addiction to nicotine or a narcotic. The compositions and methods described herein can also be used for the prophylaxis and/or treatment of a condition resulting from the exposure to a toxin, hazardous substance, environmental toxin, or other harmful agent.

[0142] In embodiments, the compositions and methods provided can be used to systemically induce cytokines, such as TNF-.alpha., IL-6 and/or IL-12, or IFN-.gamma., IL-12 and/or IL-18. In other embodiments, the compositions and methods provided can be used to induce an antibody response or to generate an antibody titer. The immune responses as provided herein can be specific to an antigen, such as any of the antigens provided herein, preferably to one or more antigens in an inventive composition or that is administered according to an inventive method provided herein.

[0143] The compositions and methods provided herein can be used in a variety of subjects. The subjects provided herein can have or be at risk of having cancer. Cancers include, but are not limited to, breast cancer; biliary tract cancer; bladder cancer; brain cancer including glioblastomas and medulloblastomas; cervical cancer; choriocarcinoma; colon cancer; endometrial cancer; esophageal cancer; gastric cancer; hematological neoplasms including acute lymphocytic and myelogenous leukemia, e.g., B Cell CLL; T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma; hairy cell leukemia; chronic myelogenous leukemia, multiple myeloma; AIDS-associated leukemias and adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma; intraepithelial neoplasms including Bowen's disease and Paget's disease; liver cancer; lung cancer; lymphomas including Hodgkin's disease and lymphocytic lymphomas; neuroblastomas; oral cancer including squamous cell carcinoma; ovarian cancer including those arising from epithelial cells, stromal cells, germ cells and mesenchymal cells; pancreatic cancer; prostate cancer; rectal cancer; sarcomas including leiomyosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, liposarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and osteosarcoma; skin cancer including melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell cancer; testicular cancer including germinal tumors such as seminoma, non-seminoma (teratomas, choriocarcinomas), stromal tumors, and germ cell tumors; thyroid cancer including thyroid adenocarcinoma and medullar carcinoma; and renal cancer including adenocarcinoma and Wilms tumor.

[0144] The subjects provided herein can have or be at risk of having an infection or infectious disease. Infections or infectious diseases include, but are not limited to, viral infectious diseases, such as AIDS, Chickenpox (Varicella), Common cold, Cytomegalovirus Infection, Colorado tick fever, Dengue fever, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Hand, foot and mouth disease, Hepatitis, Herpes simplex, Herpes zoster, HPV, Influenza (Flu), Lassa fever, Measles, Marburg hemorrhagic fever, Infectious mononucleosis, Mumps, Norovirus, Poliomyelitis, Progressive multifocal leukencephalopathy, Rabies, Rubella, SARS, Smallpox (Variola), Viral encephalitis, Viral gastroenteritis, Viral meningitis, Viral pneumonia, West Nile disease and Yellow fever; bacterial infectious diseases, such as Anthrax, Bacterial Meningitis, Botulism, Brucellosis, Campylobacteriosis, Cat Scratch Disease, Cholera, Diphtheria, Epidemic Typhus, Gonorrhea, Impetigo, Legionellosis, Leprosy (Hansen's Disease), Leptospirosis, Listeriosis, Lyme disease, Melioidosis, Rheumatic Fever, MRSA infection, Nocardiosis, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Plague, Pneumococcal pneumonia, Psittacosis, Q fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Salmonellosis, Scarlet Fever, Shigellosis, Syphilis, Tetanus, Trachoma, Tuberculosis, Tularemia, Typhoid Fever, Typhus and Urinary Tract Infections; parasitic infectious diseases, such as African trypanosomiasis, Amebiasis, Ascariasis, Babesiosis, Chagas Disease, Clonorchiasis, Cryptosporidiosis, Cysticercosis, Diphyllobothriasis, Dracunculiasis, Echinococcosis, Enterobiasis, Fascioliasis, Fasciolopsiasis, Filariasis, Free-living amebic infection, Giardiasis, Gnathostomiasis, Hymenolepiasis, Isosporiasis, Kala-azar, Leishmaniasis, Malaria, Metagonimiasis, Myiasis, Onchocerciasis, Pediculosis, Pinworm Infection, Scabies, Schistosomiasis, Taeniasis, Toxocariasis, Toxoplasmosis, Trichinellosis, Trichinosis, Trichuriasis, Trichomoniasis and Trypanosomiasis; fungal infectious disease, such as Aspergillosis, Blastomycosis, Candidiasis, Coccidioidomycosis, Cryptococcosis, Histoplasmosis, Tinea pedis (Athlete's Foot) and Tinea cruris; prion infectious diseases, such as Alpers' disease, Fatal Familial Insomnia, Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome, Kuru and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

[0145] Subjects provided here also include those that have or are at risk of having an atopic condition, such as but not limited to allergy, allergic asthma, or atopic dermatitis; asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, e.g. emphysema or chronic bronchitis); and chronic infections due to chronic infectious agents such as chronic Leishmaniasis, candidiasis or schistosomiasis and infections caused by plasmodia, toxoplasma gondii, mycobacteria, HIV, HBV, HCV EBV or CMV, or any one of the above, or any subset of the above.

EXAMPLES

Example 1

Synthetic Nanocarriers with Covalently Coupled Adjuvant (Prophetic)

[0146] Resiquimod (aka R848) is synthesized according to the synthesis provided in Example 99 of U.S. Pat. No. 5,389,640 to Gerster et al. PLA-R848 conjugate is prepared. PLA-PEG-nicotine conjugate is prepared. PLA is prepared by a ring opening polymerization using D,L-lactide (MW=approximately 15 KD-18 KD). The PLA structure is confirmed by NMR. The polyvinyl alcohol (Mw=11 KD-31 KD, 85% hydrolyzed) is purchased from VWR scientific.

[0147] These are used to prepare the following solutions:

[0148] 1. PLA-R848 conjugate @ 100 mg/mL in methylene chloride

[0149] 2. PLA-PEG-nicotine in methylene chloride @ 100 mg/mL

[0150] 3. PLA in methylene chloride @ 100 mg/mL

[0151] 4. Polyvinyl alcohol in water @50 mg/mL.

[0152] Solution #1 (0.25 to 0.75 mL), solution #2 (0.25 mL) and solution #3 (0.25 to 0.5 mL) are combined in a small vial with distilled water (0.5 mL), and the mixture is sonicated at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. To this emulsion is added solution #4 (2.0 mL) and sonication at 35% amplitude for 40 seconds using the Branson Digital Sonifier 250 forms the second emulsion. This is added to a beaker containing phosphate buffer solution (30 mL), and this mixture is stirred at room temperature for 2 hours to form the nanocarriers. To wash the nanocarriers, a portion of the nanocarrier dispersion (7.0 mL) is transferred to a centrifuge tube and spun at 5,300 g for one hour, supernatant is removed, and the pellet is re-suspended in 7.0 mL of phosphate buffered saline. The centrifuge procedure is repeated and the pellet is re-suspended in 2.2 mL of phosphate buffered saline for a final nanocarrier dispersion of about 10 mg/mL.

Example 2

Synthetic Nanocarriers with Non-Covalently Coupled Adjuvant (Prophetic)

[0153] Charged nanocarriers are made as follows:

[0154] 1. PLA-PEG-OMe in methylene chloride @ 100 mg/mL

[0155] 2. PLA in methylene chloride @ 100 mg/mL

[0156] 3. Cetyl trimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) in water at 5 mg/mL

[0157] Solution #1 (0.25 to 0.75 mL), solution #2 (0.25 mL) and distilled water (0.5 mL) are combined in a small vial and the mixture is sonicated at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. To this emulsion is added solution #3 (2.0 mL) and sonication at 35% amplitude for 40 seconds using the Branson Digital Sonifier 250 forms the second emulsion. This is added to a beaker containing phosphate buffer solution (30 mL), and this mixture is stirred at room temperature for 2 hours to form the nanocarriers. To wash the nanocarriers a portion of the nanocarrier dispersion (7.0 mL) is transferred to a centrifuge tube and spun at 5,300 g for one hour, supernatant is removed, and the pellet is re-suspended in 7.0 mL of phosphate buffered saline. The centrifuge procedure is repeated and the pellet is re-suspended in 2.2 mL of DI water for a final nanocarrier dispersion of about 10 mg/mL. To adsorb an antigen, in this case CpG DNA, to the nanocarriers, 1.0 mL of the charged nanocarriers in DI water at 10 mg/mL are cooled on ice. To this cooled suspension is added 10 .mu.g of CpG DNA ODN 1826, and this mixture is incubated at 4.degree. C. for 4 hours. The nanocarriers are then isolated and washed as described above.

Example 3

Composition with Synthetic Nanocarriers and Uncoupled Antigen (Prophetic)

[0158] The polyvinyl alcohol (Mw=11 KD-31 KD, 87-89% partially hydrolyzed) is purchased from J T Baker. Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 is obtained from Bachem Americas Inc. (3132 Kashiwa Street, Torrance Calif. 90505. Part #4065609). PLGA-R848 (or PLA-R848) and PLA-PEG-Antigen or PLA-PEG-Linker or PLA-PEG-OMe conjugates are synthesized and purified.

[0159] The above materials are used to prepare the following solutions:

[0160] 1. PLA-R848 or PLGA-R848 conjugate in methylene chloride @ 100 mg/mL

[0161] 2. PLA-PEG-OMe in methylene chloride @ 100 mg/mL

[0162] 3. PLA or PLGA in methylene chloride @ 100 mg/mL

[0163] 4. Polyvinyl alcohol in 100 mM pH 8 phosphate buffer @50 mg/mL

[0164] Solution #1 (0.1 to 0.9 mL) and solution #2 (0.01 to 0.50 mL) are combined, optionally also including solution #3 (0.1 to 0.89 mL),and then distilled water (0.50 mL) is added in a small vessel and the mixture is sonicated at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. To this emulsion is added solution #4 (2.0-3.0 mL) and sonication at 30% amplitude for 40 seconds using the Branson Digital Sonifier 250 forms the second emulsion. This is added to a stirring beaker containing a 70 mM pH 8 phosphate buffer solution (30 mL), and this mixture is stirred at room temperature for 2 hours to form the nanocarriers. To wash the nanocarriers, a portion of the nanocarrier dispersion (25 to 32 mL) is transferred to a 50 mL centrifuge tube and spun at 9500 rpm (13,800 g) for one hour at 4.degree. C., supernatant is removed, and the pellet is re-suspended in 25 to 32 mL of phosphate buffered saline. The centrifugation procedure is repeated and the pellet is re-suspended in phosphate buffered saline to achieve a final nominal nanocarrier concentration of 10 mg/mL.

[0165] The nanocarriers are combined with the necessary amount of sterile saline solution to reach the final concentration in a sterile vehicle, and then administered to a subject by subcutaneous or intramuscular injection using a conventional slip-tip or Luer-lock syringe.

Example 4

Administration of Synthetic Nanocarriers and Non-Coadministered Antigen (Prophetic)

[0166] The synthetic nanocarriers of Example 3 are formulated into a sterile saline vehicle, and then administered to a subject by subcutaneous or intramuscular injection using a conventional slip-tip or Luer-lock syringe. The subject is exposed to environmental antigen (e.g. pollen, animal antigens, etc.) that is not coadministered with the synthetic nanocarriers. Any altered immune response to the non-coadministered antigen that is due to the administration of the synthetic nanocarriers is noted.

Example 5

Synthetic Nanocarriers with Covalently Coupled Adjuvant

[0167] Virus-like particles (VLP's) have received attention as nanocarriers for use in vaccines and for drug delivery. These virus-like particles can also be used to deliver covalently attached adjuvants. Virus-like particles can be made by a variety of methods, for example, as described in Biotechnology and Bioengineering 100(1), 28, (2008). Covalent attachment can be accomplished as follows.

[0168] A suspension of virus-like particles in PBS (1.0 mL, 300 .mu.g/mL) is cooled on ice. To this is added the R-848 conjugate (50 mg, described below) in PBS (0.5 mL). EDC hydrochloride (50 mg) is added and the mixture is gently stirred overnight at ice temperature. The resulting VLP conjugate is freed from excess R848 conjugate by dialysis.

[0169] The R848 conjugate is made as follows. R848 (5.0 gm, 1.59.times.10.sup.-2 moles) and diglycolic anhydride (3.7 gm, 3.18.times.10.sup.-2 moles) are combined in dimethylacetamide (10 mL). This solution is heated at 120.degree. C. for 2 hours. After cooling slightly, 2-propanol (25 mL) is added ,and the resulting solution is stirred on ice for 1 hour. The imide separates as a white solid which is isolated by filtration, washed with 2-propanol and dried. The yield of the R848 imide is 6.45 gm (98%).

[0170] The R848 imide (412 mg, 1.0.times.10.sup.-3 moles) and 6-hydroxycaproic acid (132 mg, 1.0.times.10.sup.-3 moles) are stirred in methylene chloride (5 mL). To this suspension is added 1,5,7-triazabicyclo[4,4,0]dec-5-ene (TBD, 278 mg, 2.times.10.sup.-3 moles) after which the suspension is stirred overnight at room temperature. The resulting clear solution is diluted with methylene chloride (25 mL), and this solution is washed with 5% citric acid solution (2.times.25 mL). After drying over magnesium sulfate the solution is filtered and evaporated under vacuum to provide the R848 conjugate used in the VLP-antigen synthesis. The expected R848 conjugate structure is as follows:

##STR00002##

Example 6

Coupling of Nanocarrier to R848 Adjuvant Abolishes Systemic Production of Inflammatory Cytokines

[0171] Groups of mice were injected subcutaneously into hind limbs with 100 .mu.g of nanocarriers (NC) coupled, non-coupled or admixed with small molecule nucleoside analogue and known TLR7/8 agonist and adjuvant R848. R848 amount in nanocarrier was 2-3% resulting in 2-3 .mu.g of coupled R848 per injection; amount of free R848 used was 20 .mu.g per injection. Mouse serum was taken by terminal bleed and systemic cytokine production in serum was measured at different time-points by ELISA (BD Biosciences). As seen in FIGS. 1A-1C, strong systemic production of major pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-.alpha., IL-6 and IL-12 was observed when admixed R848 (NC+R848) was used, while no expression of TNF-.alpha., IL-6 and IL-12 was detected when two separate preparations of NC coupled with R848 (NC-R848-1 and NC-R848-2) were used. The difference in peak cytokine expression levels was >100-fold for TNF-.alpha. and IL-6, and >50-fold for IL-12. NC not coupled to R848 (labeled as NC only) did not induce any systemic cytokines when used without admixed R848.

Example 7

Coupling of Nanocarrier to R848 Adjuvant Does Not Inhibit Systemic Production of Immune Cytokine IFN-.gamma.

[0172] While early proinflammatory cytokines are associated with side effects during immunization, the production of other cytokines, such as immune IFN-.gamma. is known to be important for induction of effective immune response. Therefore, an experiment was performed identically to that of Example 6. Systemic production of immune cytokine IFN-.gamma. (as measured in mouse serum by ELISA, BD Biosciences), which is instrumental for Th1 immune response, was seen to reach the same level irrespectively of whether NC-R848 (containing 2 .mu.g of R848) or NC with admixed R848 (20 .mu.g) was used (FIG. 2). Furthermore, the production of IFN-.gamma. by NP-R848 was distributed over a wider time window.

Example 8

The Production of Systemic IL-12 by Adjuvants R848 and CpG is Abolished by Their Coupling to Nanocarriers

[0173] The effect on systemic cytokine induction by coupling of a TLR agonist to a nanocarrier was demonstrated to not be specific to a particular TLR agonist. In this experiment groups of two mice were inoculated by free TLR agonists R848 or CpG 1826 (20 .mu.g each) and by the same molecules coupled to nanocarriers, NC-R848 (100 .mu.g of NC prep, containing a total of 3 .mu.g of R848) or NC-CpG (100 .mu.g of NC prep, containing a total of 5 .mu.g of CpG 1826), and serum IL-12 measured at times indicated in pooled mouse sera (ELISA, BD Biosciences). As seen in FIG. 3, peak levels of systemic IL-12 were 30-fold higher by free R848 than by NC-R848 and 20-fold higher by free CpG 1826 than by NC-CpG).

Example 9

Local Induction of Immune Cytokines IFN-.gamma., IL-12 and IL-1.beta. is Strongly Augmented by Adjuvant Coupling to Nanocarriers, While Adjuvant is Spared

[0174] While systemic induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines is associated with adverse effects of vaccination, local induction of immune cytokines, such as IFN-.gamma. or IL-1.beta., is viewed as mostly beneficial for the induction of specific and localized immune response. In the experiment shown in FIG. 4, mice were injected subcutaneously at the hind limb by free (20 .mu.g) or NC-coupled R848 and CpG adjuvants (adjuvant content 2.5-4 .mu.g), draining (popliteal) lymph nodes (LN) removed at times indicated, incubated overnight in a standard cell culture medium and cytokine production in cell supernatants measured by ELISA as described above. Much stronger local induction of Th1 cytokines IFN-.gamma. (50-100-fold, FIG. 4A) and IL-12 (17-fold, FIG. 4B) and inflammasome-related cytokine IL-1.beta. (6-fold, FIG. 4C) was observed when NC-R848 was used compared to free R848 (notably, the amounts of R848 present in NC-R848 were 5-10 times less than of free R848). Similarly, NC-CpG was a much stronger inducer of local immune cytokines than free CpG (known to be extremely potent in this regard). Local production of IFN-.gamma. was 7-15 times higher at peak levels (FIG. 4A), production of IL-12 was 4 times higher (FIG. 4B), and production of IL-1.beta. was 2 times higher (FIG. 4C). The amount of CpG 1826 present in NC-CpG was 4-5 times less than of free CpG 1826.

Example 10

Local Lymph Node (LN) Stimulation and Induction of Immune Cell Proliferation by NC-Coupled R848 Adjuvant, but not by Free R848

[0175] Draining lymph node swelling (lymphadenopathy) is a hallmark of local immune activation. It results from infiltration of LN infiltration by different cells instrumental for innate and adaptive immune response. Mice were subcutaneously inoculated with NC-R848, NC only or with NC-R848 in hind limbs as described above. Popliteal LNs were removed at times indicated (FIG. 5), and the number of total cells as well as separate immune cell population counted. Hemocytometer was used for total cell counts, and then cell populations were differentially stained by surface cell markers and percentage of positive for each population determined using FACS. DC: dendritic cells, mDC: myeloid DC, pDC: plasmacytoid DC, Mph: macrophages, Gr: granulocytes, B: B cells, T: T cells, NK: natural killer cells. The following markers were used for staining: CD11c.sup.+ (DC); CD11c.sup.+B220.sup.- (mDC); CD11c.sup.+B220.sup.+ (pDC); F4/80+/Gr1.sup.-(Mph); F4/80.sup.-/Gr1+ (Gr); B220.sup.+CD11c.sup.- (B cells); CD3.sup.+ (T cells); CD3.sup.-/CD49b.sup.+ (NK cells). Major increase in total cell number in draining LN was seen after injection with NC-R848 with DC, granulocytes, B-cells and NK cells showing the most pronounced effect (FIG. 5).

Example 11

Antibody Response Higher for Nanocarrier with Conjugated Adjuvant versus Admixed Adjuvant

[0176] Materials for Nic,R848,OP-II Nanocarrier Formulations

[0177] Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 amide TFA salt, was purchased from Bachem Americas Inc. (3132 Kashiwa Street, Torrance Calif. 90505. Part #4064565.) PLA with an inherent viscosity of 0.19 dL/g was purchased from Boehringer Ingelheim (Ingelheim Germany. Product Code R202H). PLA-R848 conjugate having molecular weight of approximately 2500 Da and R848 content of approximately 13.6% by weight was synthesized by a ring-opening process. PLA-PEG-Nicotine with a nicotine-terminated PEG block of approximately 3,500 Da and DL-PLA block of approximately 15,000 Da was synthesized. Polyvinyl alcohol (Mw=11,000-31,000, 87-89% hydrolyzed) was purchased from J. T. Baker (Part Number U232-08).

Methods for Nic,R848,OP-II Nanocarrier Production

[0178] Solutions were prepared as follows:

[0179] Solution 1: Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 @ 69 mg/mL was prepared in distilled water at room temperature.

[0180] Solution 2: PLA-R848 @ 50 mg/mL, PLA @ 25 mg/mL, and PLA-PEG-Nicotine @ 25 mg/mL in dichloromethane was prepared by dissolving the polymers at 100 mg/mL, combining the PLA-R848 and PLA solutions at a 2:1 ratio, and then adding 1 part PLA-PEG-Nicotine solution to 3 parts of the PLA-R848/PLA solution.

[0181] Solution 3: Polyvinyl alcohol @ 50 mg/mL in 100 mM in deionized water.

[0182] Solution 4: 70 mM phosphate buffer, pH 8.

[0183] A primary (W1/O) emulsion was first created using Solution 1 and Solution 2. Solution 1 (0.1 mL) and Solution 2 (1.0 mL) were combined in a small glass pressure tube and sonicated at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. A secondary (W1/O/W2) emulsion was then formed by adding Solution 3 (2.0 mL) to the primary emulsion and sonicating at 35% amplitude for 40 seconds using the Branson Digital Sonifier 250. The secondary emulsion was added to a beaker containing 70 mM phosphate buffer solution (30 mL) in an open 50 ml beaker and stirred at room temperature for 2 hours to allow for the dichloromethane to evaporate and for the nanocarriers to form in suspension. A portion of the suspended nanocarriers were washed by transferring the nanocarrier suspension to a centrifuge tube, spinning at 5,300 rcf for 60 minutes, removing the supernatant, and re-suspending the pellet in phosphate buffered saline. This washing procedure was repeated and then the pellet was re-suspended in phosphate buffered saline to achieve nanocarrier suspension having a nominal concentration of 10 mg/mL on a polymer basis. The suspension was stored frozen at -20.degree. C. until use.

TABLE-US-00001 TABLE 1 Nic, R848, OP-II Nanocarrier Characterization Effective TLR Agonist, T-cell helper Nanocarrier ID Diameter (nm) % w/w peptide, % w/w Nic, R848, OP-II 234 R848, 0.7 Ova 323-339, 1.8

Materials for Nic,O,OP-II Nanocarrier Formulations

[0184] Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 amide TFA salt, was purchased from Bachem Americas Inc. (3132 Kashiwa Street, Torrance Calif. 90505. Part #4064565.) PLA with an inherent viscosity of 0.19 dL/g was purchased from Boehringer Ingelheim (Ingelheim Germany. Product Code R202H). PLA-PEG-Nicotine with a nicotine-terminated PEG block of approximately 3,500 Da and DL-PLA block of approximately 15,000 Da was synthesized. Polyvinyl alcohol (MW=11,000-31,000, 87-89% hydrolyzed) was purchased from J. T. Baker (Part Number U232-08).

Methods for Nic,O,OP-II Nanocarrier Production

[0185] Solutions were prepared as follows:

[0186] Solution 1: Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 @ 69 mg/mL was prepared in 0.13N hydrochloric acid at room temperature.

[0187] Solution 2: PLA @ 75 mg/mL and PLA-PEG-Nicotine @ 25 mg/mL in dichloromethane was prepared by dissolving PLA @ 100 mg/mL in dichloromethane and PLA-PEG-Nicotine at 100 mg/mL in dichloromethane, then combining 3 parts of the PLA solution to 1 part of the PLA-PEG-Nicotine solution.

[0188] Solution 3: Polyvinyl alcohol @ 50 mg/mL in 100 mM in deionized water.

[0189] Solution 4: 70 mM phosphate buffer, pH 8.

[0190] A primary (W1/O) emulsion was first created using Solution 1 and Solution 2. Solution 1 (0.1 mL) and Solution 2 (1.0 mL) were combined in a small glass pressure tube and sonicated at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. A secondary (W1/O/W2) emulsion was then formed by adding Solution 3 (2.0 mL) to the primary emulsion and sonicating at 35% amplitude for 40 seconds using the Branson Digital Sonifier 250. The secondary emulsion was added to a beaker containing 70 mM phosphate buffer solution (30 mL) in an open 50 ml beaker and stirred at room temperature for 2 hours to allow for the dichloromethane to evaporate and for the nanocarriers to form in suspension. A portion of the suspended nanocarriers were washed by transferring the nanocarrier suspension to centrifuge tubes, spinning at 5300 rcf for 60 minutes, removing the supernatant, and re-suspending the pellet in phosphate buffered saline. This washing procedure was repeated and then the pellet was re-suspended in phosphate buffered saline to achieve nanocarrier suspension having a nominal concentration of 10 mg/mL on a polymer basis. The suspension was stored frozen at -20.degree. C. until use.

TABLE-US-00002 TABLE 2 Nanocarrier Characterization Effective TLR Agonist, T-cell helper Nanocarrier ID Diameter (nm) % w/w peptide, % w/w Nic, O, OP-II 248 None Ova, 2.2 (O = no adjuvant)

Results

[0191] Anti-nicotine antibody titers in mice immunized with NC containing surface nicotine and T-helper peptide OP-II with or without R848 (5 animals/group; s.c., 100 .mu.g of NC per injection, 3 times with 4-wk intervals). Titers for days 26 and 40 after the 1.sup.st immunization are shown (ELISA against polylysine-nicotine). Group 1: immunized with NP[Nic,R848,OP-II] (3.1% of NC-conjugated R848); group 2: immunized with NP[Nic,O,OP-II] (no R848 bound to NC) admixed with 20 .mu.g of free R848.

[0192] These results demonstrate that conjugation of R848 to NC resulted in a stronger adjuvant effect than utilization of free R848 admixed to NC that does not contain R848. When identical amounts of two NCs, one containing surface nicotine, T-helper peptide OP-II and R848 (NC[Nic,R848,OP-II]), and another containing the same ingredients, but without R848 (NC[Nic,O,OP-II]) were used for animal immunization, a higher antibody response was observed for R848 that had been conjugated to NC even if a substantially higher amount of free R848 (>6-fold) was admixed to NP[Nic,O,OP-II] prior to immunization compared to amount of NC-conjugated R848 (FIG. 6).

Example 12

Nanocarriers with Entrapped Adjuvant Results in Lower Systemic Proinflammatory Cytokine Induction

Materials for Nanocarrier Formulations

[0193] Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 amide acetate salt, was purchased from Bachem Americas Inc. (3132 Kashiwa Street, Torrance Calif. 90505. Product code 4065609.) PS-1826 DNA oligonucleotide with fully phosphorothioated backbone having nucleotide sequence 5'-TCC ATG ACG TTC CTG ACG TT-3' (SEQ ID NO: 2) with a sodium counter-ion was purchased from Oligos Etc. (9775 SW Commerce Circle C-6, Wilsonville, Oreg. 97070.) PLA with an inherent viscosity of 0.19 dL/g was purchased from Boehringer Ingelheim (Ingelheim Germany. Product Code R202H). PLA-PEG-Nicotine with a nicotine-terminated PEG block of approximately 5,000 Da and DL-PLA block of approximately 17,000 Da was synthesized. Polyvinyl alcohol (Mw=11,000-31,000, 87-89% hydrolyzed) was purchased from J. T. Baker (Part Number U232-08).

Methods for Nanocarrier Production

[0194] Solutions were prepared as follows:

[0195] Solution 1: Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 @ 70 mg/mL in dilute hydrochloric acid aqueous solution. The solution was prepared by dissolving ovalbumin peptide in 0.13N hydrochloric acid solution at room temperature.

[0196] Solution 2: 0.19-IV PLA @ 75 mg/mL and PLA-PEG-nicotine @ 25 mg/ml in dichloromethane. The solution was prepared by separately dissolving PLA @ 100 mg/mL in dichloromethane and PLA-PEG-nicotine @ 100 mg/mL in dichloromethane, then mixing the solutions by adding 3 parts PLA solution for each part of PLA-PEG-nicotine solution.

[0197] Solution 3: Oligonucleotide (PS-1826) @ 200 mg/ml in purified water. The solution was prepared by dissolving oligonucleotide in purified water at room temperature.

[0198] Solution 4: Same as solution 2.

[0199] Solution 5: Polyvinyl alcohol @ 50 mg/mL in 100 mM pH 8 phosphate buffer.

[0200] Two separate primary water in oil emulsions were prepared. W1/02 was prepared by combining solution 1 (0.1 mL) and solution 2 (1.0 mL) in a small pressure tube and sonicating at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. W3/O4 was prepared by combining solution 3 (0.1 mL) and solution 4 (1.0 mL) in a small pressure tube and sonicating at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. A third emulsion with two inner emulsion phases ([W1/O2,W3/O4]/W5) emulsion was prepared by combining 0.5 ml of each primary emulsion (W1/O2 and W3/O4) and solution 5 (3.0 mL) and sonicating at 30% amplitude for 60 seconds using the Branson Digital Sonifier 250.

[0201] The third emulsion was added to an open 50 mL beaker containing 70 mM pH 8 phosphate buffer solution (30 mL) and stirred at room temperature for 2 hours to evaporate dichloromethane and to form nanocarriers in aqueous suspension. A portion of the nanocarriers was washed by transferring the suspension to a centrifuge tube and spinning at 13,800 g for one hour, removing the supernatant, and re-suspending the pellet in phosphate buffered saline. The washing procedure was repeated and the pellet was re-suspended in phosphate buffered saline for a final nanocarrier dispersion of about 10 mg/mL.

[0202] The amounts of oligonucleotide and peptide in the nanocarrier were determined by HPLC analysis. The total dry-nanocarrier mass per mL of suspension was determined by a gravimetric method and was adjusted to 5 mg/mL. Particles were stored as refrigerated suspensions until use.

TABLE-US-00003 TABLE 3 Nanocarrier Characterization Effective TLR Agonist, T-cell helper Nanocarrier Diameter (nm) % w/w peptide, % w/w 232 PS-1826, 6.4 Ova, 2.2

Results

[0203] TNF-.alpha. and IL-6 were induced in sera of NC-CpG- and free CpG-inoculated animals. Animal groups were inoculated (s.c.) either with 100 .mu.g of NC-CpG (containing 5% CpG-1826) or with 5 .mu.g of free CpG-1826. At different time-points post inoculation serum was collected from the animals (3/group) by terminal bleed, pooled and assayed for cytokine presence in ELISA (BD).

[0204] The results demonstrate that entrapment of adjuvant within NC results in a lower immediate systemic proinflammatory cytokine induction than utilization of free adjuvant. When identical amounts of a CpG adjuvant, NC-entrapped or free, were used for inoculation, a substantially higher induction of TNF-.alpha. and IL-6 in animal serum was observed for free CpG compared to NC-entrapped CpG (FIG. 7).

Example 13

Nanocarriers with Entrapped Adjuvant Results in Similar or Higher Long-Term Systemic Induction of Immune Cytokines

Materials for Nanocarrier Formulations

[0205] Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 amide acetate salt, was purchased from Bachem Americas Inc. (3132 Kashiwa Street, Torrance Calif. 90505. Product code 4065609.) PS-1826 DNA oligonucleotide with fully phosphorothioated backbone having nucleotide sequence 5'-TCC ATG ACG TTC CTG ACG TT-3' (SEQ ID NO: 2) with a sodium counter-ion was purchased from Oligos Etc. (9775 SW Commerce Circle C-6, Wilsonville, Oreg. 97070.) PLA with an inherent viscosity of 0.21 dL/g was purchased from SurModics Pharmaceuticals (756 Tom Martin Drive, Birmingham, Ala. 35211. Product Code 100 DL 2A.) PLA-PEG-Nicotine with a nicotine-terminated PEG block of approximately 5,000 Da and DL-PLA block of approximately 17,000 Da was synthesized. Polyvinyl alcohol (MW=11,000-31,000, 87-89% hydrolyzed) was purchased from J. T. Baker (Part Number U232-08).

Methods for Nanocarrier Production

[0206] Solutions were prepared as follows:

[0207] Solution 1: Ovalbumin peptide 323-339 @ 35 mg/mL in dilute hydrochloric acid aqueous solution. The solution was prepared by dissolving ovalbumin peptide in 0.13N hydrochloric acid solution at room temperature.

[0208] Solution 2: 0.21-IV PLA @ 75 mg/mL and PLA-PEG-nicotine @ 25 mg/ml in dichloromethane. The solution was prepared by separately dissolving PLA @ 100 mg/mL in dichloromethane and PLA-PEG-nicotine @ 100 mg/mL in dichloromethane, then mixing the solutions by adding 3 parts PLA solution for each part of PLA-PEG-nicotine solution.

[0209] Solution 3: Oligonucleotide (PS-1826) @ 200 mg/ml in purified water. The solution was prepared by dissolving oligonucleotide in purified water at room temperature.

[0210] Solution 4: Same as Solution #2.

[0211] Solution 5: Polyvinyl alcohol @ 50 mg/mL in 100 mM pH 8 phosphate buffer.

[0212] Two separate primary water in oil emulsions were prepared. W1/O2 was prepared by combining solution 1 (0.2 mL) and solution 2 (1.0 mL) in a small pressure tube and sonicating at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. W3/O4 was prepared by combining solution 3 (0.1 mL) and solution 4 (1.0 mL) in a small pressure tube and sonicating at 50% amplitude for 40 seconds using a Branson Digital Sonifier 250. A third emulsion with two inner emulsion ([W1/O2,W3/O4]/W5) emulsion was prepared by combining 0.55 ml of each primary emulsion (W1/O2 and W3/O4) and solution 5 (3.0 mL) and sonicating at 30% amplitude for 60 seconds using the Branson Digital Sonifier 250.

[0213] The third emulsion was added to an open 50 mL beaker containing 70 mM pH 8 phosphate buffer solution (30 mL) and stirred at room temperature for 2 hours to evaporate dichloromethane and to form nanocarriers in aqueous suspension. A portion of the nanocarriers was washed by transferring the suspension to a centrifuge tube and spinning at 13,800 g for one hour, removing the supernatant, and re-suspending the pellet in phosphate buffered saline. The washing procedure was repeated and the pellet was re-suspended in phosphate buffered saline for a final nanocarrier dispersion of about 10 mg/mL.

[0214] The amounts of oligonucleotide and peptide in the nanocarrier were determined by HPLC analysis. The total dry-nanocarrier mass per mL of suspension was determined by a gravimetric method and was adjusted to 5 mg/mL. Particles were stored as refrigerated suspensions until use.

TABLE-US-00004 TABLE 4 Nanocarrier Characterization Effective TLR Agonist, T-cell helper Nanocarrier Diameter (nm) % w/w peptide, % w/w 217 PS-1826, 6.2 Ova, Not Determined

Results

[0215] IFN-.gamma. and IL-12 were induced in sera of NC-CpG- and free CpG-inoculated animals. Animal groups were inoculated (s.c.) with 100 .mu.g of NC-CpG (containing 6% CpG-1826) or with 6 .mu.g of free CpG-1826. At 24 hours post inoculation serum was collected from the animals (3/group) by terminal bleed, pooled and assayed for cytokine presence in ELISA (BD).

[0216] These results demonstrate that entrapment of adjuvant within nanocarriers results in a similar or even higher long-term systemic induction of immune cytokines compared to utilization of free adjuvant. When identical amounts of a CpG adjuvant, NC-entrapped or free, were used for animal inoculation, a similar level of long-term induction of systemic IFN-.gamma. and higher induction of IL-12 in animal serum was observed (FIG. 8).

Sequence CWU 1

1

2117PRTG. gallus 1Ile Ser Gln Ala Val His Ala Ala His Ala Glu Ile Asn Glu Ala Gly 1 5 10 15 Arg 220DNAArtificial sequencesynthetic oligonucleotide 2tccatgacgt tcctgacgtt 20

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