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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid