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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora