New Vaccines for Old and Emerging Disease New Vaccines for Old and Emerging Disease
National Institutes of Health, NIAID Newsletter

Scientists today are working not only to develop new vaccines against diseases that are making people sick, but they also are searching for unique ways to get vaccines for the people of the 21st century

In the future people may be able to:
– eat vaccines,
– inhale them through their noses
– or put them on their skin

Pregnant women may receive vaccines to protect their unborn babies against childhood diseases.

Edible vaccines

Vaccines one can eat, called an edible vaccine, are among the most unusual approaches to administering new vaccines. An NIAID supported study of an edible potato vaccine proved successful in demonstrating that such a vaccine can stimulate an immune response. By eating genetically engineered raw potatoes which contain a piece of a type of E. coli, the volunteers developed antibodies against the bacteria.

Vaccines in a nasal spray

Another NIAID supported study, demonstrated that a flu vaccine administered as a nasal spray was effective in preventing flu in childhood as well as flu-related ear infections. The new vaccine was developed by NIAID scientists and grantees by constructing a vaccine containing a weakened flu virus that does not grow at a warmer temperature in the lungs. Because it grows only in the cooler areas of the nasal passage, it can make a person immune to flu without causing the disease.

Immunizing the unborn

Scientists are working to develop a test vaccine for pregnant women that would protect their babies against Group B streptococcus and respiratory Syncytial virus, both of which can cause severe illness in infants. Maternal immunization is a strategy that might enable pregnant women to be vaccinated against certain diseases and pass protection to their newborns.

DNA vaccines

One new type of experimental vaccine for HIV/AIDS is made from the genetic material of HIV itself. Genes coding for viral proteins of HIV are injected directly into the body. This enables the body to produce the viral proteins, which then stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies against HIV. Several DNA vaccines for HIV/AIDS and other diseases are already under development.

Malaria vaccines

A new approach to malaria is to develop a vaccine that prevents transmission of the malaria parasite from the infected person to another person. This type of vaccine would be given to people already infected with the parasite, not to protect them from the illness, but to prevent the parasite from infecting someone else.

After a mosquito bits a person whose blood contains the malaria parasite, the mosquito normally transmits the parasite to someone else when it next feeds. But this vaccine will block the sexual development of the parasite in the mosquito so that the parasite could not cause malaria in the next person bitten by the mosquito.

New technology such as these are providing more and more innovative ways to make vaccines that will improve health in the 21st century