Vaccines in childhood are an important aspect of keeping your child safe from potentially deadly diseases and they also play an essential role in preventing the spread of infection. Similarly, vaccinations in adulthood can reduce the risk of vulnerable people becoming infected with dangerous diseases and spreading infections from one country to another. Therefore, finding the best way to deliver vaccines is a vital area of research. Traditionally, vaccinations are given intramuscularly using a needle. This is problematic for people who have a fear of needles. It also makes the experience of receiving a vaccine more traumatic for young children who do not understand the benefits of the procedure.
Another option for delivering vaccines is orally, but this method also has its downsides. The first problem is that when children take them, they often spit them straight back out again. Some children also have trouble swallowing oral vaccines. Another problem is that stomach acid can break down vaccines that are given in pill form and are then less effective. The challenges with oral vaccinations have led researchers to look into the option of developing tiny, molecular motors. These could potentially propel an oral pill to a target in the body. This will increase the effectiveness of oral vaccinations and will reduce the need to deliver vaccines by needles. This may sound rather technical and could lead people to believe that the pills are propelled by some form of mechanical motor. However, this is not the case as the team of engineers from the University of California in San Diego have discovered a way of delivering the drugs using titanium dioxide and magnesium. These substances react with water in the body ad this creates a stream of bubbles. This jet stream then propels the pills to the target.
To resolve the issue of stomach acid breaking down the medication, the researchers have realized that coating the pill with a membrane of blood cells will prevent digestive acids from destroying the tablet. This means that the tablet is launched through the intestines without getting damaged and is delivered to the right spot where the vaccine is absorbed into the body. Overall, this is a more effective delivery method in the oral vaccination process. At this time, there are only a small number of diseases for which oral vaccinations are used. The Centers doe Disease Control and Preventions say that these diseases include cholera and typhoid. Both these diseases have extremely serious symptoms and the conditions are potentially fatal, especially if the affected person is already vulnerable. Those considered vulnerable include children, elderly people, and those who already suffer from health problems or who have a compromised immune system.
The development of this new vaccination delivery method could have a significantly positive impact on the number of people affected by these devastating diseases. As the oral vaccinations are more effective, more people have a chance of protection from contracting the infections and this, in turn, will limit the spread of the diseases. At this stage into the research into developing new vaccination methods, using this type of targeting has only been tested on mice in laboratories. There is still some way to go before the vaccines are tested on humans. Even then, it will potentially take years to formulate the results of the research and launch the vaccines.
However, the results so far show that using these vaccines that target the gut leads to a stronger immune response than when injections are used. Therefore, it is likely that professionals and experts in the fields of health and medicine will have a strong desire to replace traditional vaccination methods with the new targeted oral vaccines. Eventually, these may become the vaccines of choice and could mark a new era in the field of super-strong vaccinations. However, even after the vaccinations become available to humans, it could potentially take decades to collate information to show how effective these drugs are and the impact they have had on reducing incidences of infection and limiting the spread of infectious diseases. Despite the potential wait for the true impact to become apparent, all the indications point towards these new self-propelling pills becoming one of the greatest developments in the field of the control of infectious diseases.