‘Remote-controlled’ vaccine delivery could eliminate need for booster jabs

hydrogel vaccine delivery (flickr raphaelstrada)

Many vaccines, such as those for Hep A and B, HPV, MMR and rabies, need several booster doses to achieve maximal immunological protection. Booster doses add to the complexity of vaccine administration, especially when used in large vaccination campaigns in the developing world. Therefore, anything which simplifies vaccine administration and reduces the need for multiple medical consultations is likely to have a major beneficial impact on future global health campaigns. If the prime-boost strategy could be replaced by a body depot, for example, it’s likely that vaccination coverage could improve for a number of diseases.

Researchers reporting in Advanced Functional Materials have been investigating a vaccine delivery system that uses a hydrogel implant to replace follow-up injections. The implant, a small hydrogel sphere placed under the skin, would then release additional doses of the vaccine once a patient swallows a fluorescein-containing pill. In the recent study in mice, the team incorporated human papilloma virus particles into the hydrogel mesh and implanted them in vivo. The mice then swallowed a pill containing fluoroscein, which acted as a trigger to dissolve the mesh and release the vaccine. The ‘remote-controlled’ release of the vaccine resulted in successful immunoprotection.

The team have also looked at the hydrogel implant method in hepatitis B vaccine administration, reported here in Nature Scientific Reports. In mice, the hydrogel depot was sensitive to novobiocin, allowing for a drastic simplification in repetitive vaccine delivery. “This material-based vaccination regime holds high promises to replace classical vaccine injections conducted by medical personnel by the simple oral uptake of the stimulus thereby solving a major obstacle in increasing hepatitis B vaccination coverage,” write the researchers.

You can read more in Wired magazine >


Comments 3

  1. Steve Michaels

    Considering that there are really no double blind RCT showing that any of these vaccines actually work, and in some cases like HPV vaccination is known and admitted to INCREASE pre-cancerous lesions, I guess the choice of words in this article was carefully chosen. There is talk of “vaccination coverage”, “immunological protection” and “global health campaigns” but nothing about reducing incidence of severity of disease nor anything about side effects or adverse reactions.

    “Vaccination coverage”: number of people receiving a vaccine, no direct relevance to actual disease reductions. No studies have compared incidence rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated to prove REAL protection.

    “Immunological protection”: This is the bait and switch to confuse the average person. This “protection” is determined by antibody titer counts. There is no evidence that increased titer counts translate into REAL protection. There are many diseases that the body fights off without any titers and many diseases that occur even though titer counts are high. This term just sounds good, but means nothing.

    “Global health CAMPAIGNS”: This is basically the same as an ADVERTISING campaign, except intimidation, force of law and fear tactics are employed to coerce product purchase/usage.

  2. Anna Watson

    My first thought, after acknowledging the improvement in vaccine delivery programmes, was what about an Aids diagnosis once the implant is established? Live vaccines are not recommended for the immunocompromised. How can the risk then be mitigated?

    In some areas Aids is high but I can’t see these people being called back for the implant removal – if it is at all possible. Seems some collateral damage is built in for the greater good. What analysis has been done of this and other issues?

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