News / Health

Room-Temperature Vaccine Could Be Boon to Developing Countries

FILE - A Syrian girl weeps after receiving the measles vaccine from UNICEF nurses at the U.N. refugee agency's registration center in Zahleh, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
FILE - A Syrian girl weeps after receiving the measles vaccine from UNICEF nurses at the U.N. refugee agency's registration center in Zahleh, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
Jessica Berman
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.  

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.

Narasimhan says a huge advantage of the nanovaccine is that it does not require refrigeration, which is challenging in remote parts of the world and drives up the cost of traditional vaccines.

“The price of the vaccine would go down," he said. "But the logistics of employing these vaccines into various parts of the world would also be tremendously impacted by a room temperature storage vaccine that would not need refrigeration.”

Narasimhan says nanovaccines developed in the lab remained effective for up to six months without refrigeration.

A nanovaccine can be designed to target any disease, according to Narasimhan, by sealing proteins from the pathogens inside the spheres.
 
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. They can even be formulated to include antibiotics and antimicrobials to help treat disease.

A person only needs to be immunized once with a nanovaccine.  Narasimhan says boosters are not needed to resensitize the immune system against a disease because of the way the nanoparticles work.

“When they come into contact with the body, the body fluids, water mainly, degrades the particles," he said. "And as the particles degrade, they release that protein slowly. So that slow release of the protein is what essentially gives the body the type of memory that it acquires to remember the infection and obviates the need for a booster shot.”

Narasimhan envisions someday having nanovaccines against any number of tropical diseases, including cholera, diphtheria and dengue fever, once researchers identify target proteins.  

Balaji Narasimhan unveiled his nanovaccine at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas, Texas.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid