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Cobalt oxide nanoparticles

An alternative vaccine adjuvant

Co3O4NP stimulate Th1-type immune responses in vivo and could be useful as a vaccine adjuvant where both Th1 and Th2 responses are needed.


  • Potential to enhance immune response to vaccines against intracellular pathogens
  • Use as an adjuvant where both Th1 and Th2 responses are needed to clear pathogens

Development Status

  • Early proof-of-concept data: mouse immunisation study.

IP Status

  • Patent “Adjuvant” was granted in Europe (EP2830656) and is pending in Chile. Filed 15 March 2013.

Commercial Offering

  • Licensing and/or collaborative research


Adjuvants may be added to a vaccine to boost the immune response to produce more antibodies and provide longer-lasting immunity, minimizing the antigen dosage needed. Aluminium/alum adjuvants have been, until relatively recently, the only adjuvant used in human vaccines. There remains a need for new adjuvants for vaccines that can successfully prevent infection due to intracellular pathogens and which produce enhanced Th1-cellular-mediated immune responses.


Edinburgh researchers have shown that cobalt oxide nanoparticles (Co3O4NP) were capable of inducing a Th1 response without a severe delayed-type hypersensitivity pathology in lungs in vivo. Using the model antigen OVA, anti-OVA responses induced by Co3O4NP were compared to a commercially available aluminium-containing adjuvant. Toxicity was also assessed at the injection site and cytotoxicity for antigen-presenting cells was evaluated using a mouse macrophage cell line. Co3O4NP was observed to induce a balanced Th1 and Th2 response to the model antigen with little evidence of allergy, inflammation or toxicity at injection sites (s.c. and i.p.)


  • Co3O4NP stimulated less allergic antibody production and in vivo inflammation (at both subcutaneous and intraperitoneal antigen administration sites) than alum.
  • Co3O4NP also produced lower in vitro toxicity whilst stimulating both Th1 and Th2 in vivo antibody responses.


  • Adjuvanticity and toxicity of cobalt oxide nanoparticles as an alternative vaccine adjuvant. Cho WS et al, Nanomedicine 2012, 7(10)
  • NiO and Co3O4 nanoparticles induce lung DTH-like responses and alveolar lipoproteinosis. Cho WS et al, Eur. Respir. J. 2012, 39: 546

Please note, the header image is purely illustrative. Source: Unsplash.

Quote: TEC1102550

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Paul Clarke

Technology Transfer Manager
School of Biological Sciences
The Roslin Institute
College of Veterinary Medicine