A joint collaboration from physicists at the Niels Bohr Institute, a team of researchers from University of São Paulo together with the Butantan Institute has introduced a technique to the pharmaceutical world that just might do the trick and lead to an optimal oral Hepatitis B vaccine.
“We have used a technology commonly used in solid state physics to explore how the vaccine behaves within a particular type of encapsulation. This has yielded crucial information that would not otherwise have been achievable. When we scientists venture beyond our comfort zone and deploy each other’s knowledge across disciplines, entirely new possibilities can emerge,” says Heloisa Bordallo, an associate professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, and one of the two main authors of the research article just published in Scientific Reports.
Three dimensional insight
A major challenge of making an oral vaccine is to encapsulate it in a material that can endure the harsh conditions of our digestive system, to protect the vaccine from being destroyed before it reaches its intended destination in the body.
“Now we know what makes the vaccine less effective, and how to optimize it. We know exactly how much vaccine should be put in the silica capsule for it to work best in the body and the clinical trials can be better interpreted,” explains Heloisa Bordallo.
No more swelling and inflammation
The vaccine is particularly promising for developing nations, explains the other main author, Martin K. Rasmussen, a former student at the Niels Bohr Institute and current doctoral student at DTU:
“Getting rid of needles being poked into the arms of little children is an advantage in and of itself. It also eliminates any need to sterilize needles and possible side effects such as swelling and infection. And, unlike the vaccine in use today, this type of vaccine needn’t be refrigerated. As such, costs will be reduced and the vaccine’s administration will be eased.”
The researchers hope that the 3D technology will also be used to develop oral vaccines against several other types of disease.