US researchers working on a single childhood vaccine

September 19th, 2017
US researchers working on a single childhood vaccine

Researchers in the USA are working on a single vaccine, which could replace a series of injections for young children.

Research teams at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new form of ‘micro-particle’, which could enable doctors to immunise children against a series of childhood illnesses using just one vaccine. These new particles look similar to tiny cups, which are sealed with a lid. Each cup contains a vaccine. When the vaccine is given to the child, the cups release the contents at the desired time. So far, trials on mice have been successful, with contents spilled at intervals of 9, 20 and 41 days after vaccination. Researchers also claim to have developed particles that can be released hundreds of days after the initial injection is given.

Lead researcher, Professor Robert Langer, said that everyone involved is very excited about the project, which could have a significant impact on the current vaccination programmes used both in the developed and the developing world. The team has created a “library of tiny, encased vaccine particles, each programmed to release at a precise, predictable time.” The invention means that children could complete a course of immunisations with a single injection, rather than undertaking a series of trips to the doctor. No parent looks forward to the day they have to take their child for injections and this option could be much more appealing.

Fellow research team member, Kevin McHugh, said that the pioneering invention may make the difference between receiving and not receiving immunisations, especially in the developing world.

The findings of trials, which have been conducted on mice, have been published in the Science journal.

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