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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs