Scientists from University of Colorado have revealed that inhaling measles vaccine can be more effective in combating the disease that causes 197,000 deaths each year globally.
While a liquid vaccine using a hypodermic needle is presently the only way to prevent the disease, they are often difficult to store, costly to transport and may be prone to contamination when shipped to developing countries.
The study led by Dr Robert Sievers shows promise for a new method that allows the patient to inhale a finely-powdered medicine.
In order to produce the inhalant, the weakened measles virus must be mixed with high-pressure carbon dioxide to produce microscopic bubbles and droplets, which are then gently dried to produce an inhalable powder.
The powder is then puffed into a small inhaler-like device and administered.
The aerosol vaccine was shown effective in test animals, and human trials are expected to begin next year in India, where more than half of the world's measles cases occur.
Aridis Pharmaceuticals have been working to develop a room temperature stable measles formulation that can be easily inhaled using cost-effective dry-powder inhalers in collaboration with the non-profit foundation PATH.
"There is a need for technologies that could stabilize the measles vaccine, as this would facilitate mass vaccination in developing world countries where transport, storage, administration costs and other complexities have limited vaccine coverage by 70 percent," said Dr Satoshi Ohtake, from Aridis and the study's principal investigator.
Ohtake's study used a combination of mild spray drying process conditions and unique stabilizers to produce stable dry powders with excellent preservation of vaccine activity.
The potency of the dried vaccine was then tested while being stored at different temperatures over several week-long periods.
The results found that the dry-powdered aerosol was stable for at least eight weeks at 37 degrees Celsius.
"This new method could potentially offer safer, more affordable and effective treatments to patients that need them the most," Ohtake added.
The research will be presented at the 2009 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition.