Researchers have developed a new pain-free method of vaccination which does not involve an injection. Using mice they have shown that it is possible to deliver a vaccine orally by combining it with protective friendly bacteria.
Most traditional vaccines given orally would be digested in the stomach and become inactive. However the team found that by combining the vaccine with probiotic bacteria (found in dairy products such as yogurt) they could stop the vaccine being destroyed by digestion. The vaccine can therefore reach the small intestine, where a powerful immune response can be stimulated.
They fed an oral anthrax vaccine to one group of mice; another received the traditional injected vaccine. Exposure to anthrax bacteria showed that oral administration of the vaccine was just as effective and produced a much more powerful immune response than the injected vaccine.This method is pain free which is an obvious advantage. Other benefits include a lack of side effects. Traditional vaccines require an additive to stimulate the immune system which is thought to be responsible for side effects such as dizziness, vomiting and swelling. These additives are not required in the oral vaccine because probiotics are natural stimulators of the immune response.
The team believes it could be possible to develop oral vaccines for breast cancer and a range of infectious diseases such as flu.