Rabies, HIV, cancer and malaria could all be prevented with pills in the future, if a new technique using specially modified viruses to deliver vaccines is adopted, according to scientists speaking today (Tuesday, 05 April 2005) at the Society for General Microbiologys 156th Meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
"We can take a special type of virus which only infects bacteria, called a bacteriophage, and replace some of its DNA with vaccine DNA, and then use the phage to deliver vaccines in a highly efficient way," says Dr John March of the Moredun Research Institute, Penicuik, near Edinburgh.
A vaccine packaged in this way is cheap, simple to make, stable, and environmentally safe according to the researchers. Because the phage vaccine can be safely stored at room temperature as a dry powder, it should be possible to turn it into a pill form and deliver it as an oral vaccine. Since the phages can mass produce themselves the system would be very cheap, and easy to store and administer, making it ideal for use in the developing world to protect against diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Faye Jones | alfa
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