Scientists have developed a revolutionary vaccine that does not require refrigeration or booster shots, making the so-called nanovaccine a potential “game-changer” in curbing disease in the developing world. Experts believe the drug, which is delivered in a nose spray, could extend immunization to millions of people who are not now vaccinated against dangerous, infectious diseases.
Using Nanoparticles in Vaccines
According to an article posted on the “Voice of America” website, scientists say the vaccine is the first to use nanoparticles, a relatively new technology in medicine that embeds proteins from disease-causing organisms into tiny, polymer spheres five hundred times smaller than the width of a human hair.
Balaji Narasimhan, a chemical engineer at Iowa State University, led a team of researchers that developed the nasal spray. Like other vaccines, the protein-containing nanoparticles contained in the spray prime the body’s immune system to recognize and mount a protective response against dangerous diseases without actually causing illness.
Does Not Require Refrigeration
Narasimhan says a huge advantage of the nanovaccine is that it does not require refrigeration, which is challenging in remote parts of the world. They also remain effective for up to six months, without needing to be refrigerated. The benefit of a nanovaccine is that it can be designed to target any diseases and does not require a booster shot.
Researchers have so far developed experimental vaccine sprays against influenza and pneumonia, as well as a number of bioterrorism agents, including plague and anthrax. Narasimhan says designer nanovaccines could potentially be used to contain emerging infectious diseases such as SARS, new influenza strains and drug-resistant tuberculosis.