Researchers Look At Possibility Of Breathable Vaccines
Posted December 27, 2002 3:53 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Right now, people have to get a shot to get the flu vaccine, but researchers are working to change that. They are developing vaccines that you simply breathe in.
Instead of getting shots, you may one day sniff vaccines. Researchers across the country are developing more effective and less invasive ways to give vaccines.
Researchers say 90 percent of bacteria and viruses get into your body through your nose and mouth. One approach is to deliver the vaccine right where it is needed.
"The flu is spread by aerosol droplets, so if can basically have a vaccine that would prevent the attachment in your nasal tract in the first place, you're one step ahead of the virus," vaccine researcher Dr. Bernard Arulanandam said.
Researchers say the vaccine is inhaled into the respiratory tract and helps the immune system to recognize the virus. The next time it tries to infect cells, the body recognizes the attacker and produces antibodies to destroy it. One of the major advantages of a nose spray is it provides protection in the nasal passage as well as throughout the body.
"You get two for the price of one. You get protection at the local site, plus systemic protection," Arulanandam said.
Researchers are testing several flu and pneumonia vaccines. At least one is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Adminstration. If it works and it is safe, you could be breathing vaccines as early as next flu season.