Author(s): Morein B, Sundquist B, Hglund S, Dalsgaard K, Osterhaus A
We describe here a novel type of immunostimulating complex, called 'iscom', in which virus membrane proteins are presented in a multimeric form. The matrix of the iscom is the glycoside Quil A (Spikoside; Iscotec AB), extracted from the bark of Quillaja saponaria Molina, which forms micelles at the critical micellar concentration of 0.03%. In micelle form, Quil A probably has regions accessible for hydrophobic interaction with the membrane proteins so that it can form complexes with them. Iscoms have been prepared with membrane proteins of para-influenza-3 (PI-3), measles and rabies viruses, and their immunizing potency tested in animals. In these experiments, iscoms prove to be at least 10 times more potent than micelles formed by aggregation of the membrane proteins alone. Iscoms of PI-3 and measles viruses also stimulate the formation of antibody to the fusion (F) protein, which is considered to be poorly immunogenic. No side effects of iscoms or of protein micelles have been observed.