The way we take vaccinations may soon be changing, for researchers at Iowa State University are working on a new way to produce vaccines that work better, use smaller doses and require only one trip to the doctor's office.
The research led by Michael Wannemuehler, a professor of veterinary microbiology and preventative medicine, is focused on the use of just a part of the bacteria, a protein, as a vaccine, instead of the entire killed bacteria, coupled with novel polymers that will be used to deliver these vaccines.
Such a combination of new approaches will allow vaccines doses to be smaller, safer and with fewer side effects.
"As we move away from using whole bacteria, we're going to more molecular approaches with purified proteins or portions of proteins. What these technologies should allow us to do is, instead of injecting 100 units to get protection, we can inject one unit, for example," said Wannemuehler,
This research was targeted at the bacteria causing plague, a disease found in parts of the world. When select proteins of the bacteria coupled with unique polymers are used, it can reduce the amount of vaccine needed as well as costs for shipping and storage.
In this way, the vaccine will be economically feasible for areas at a great distance, such as Africa, where vaccines can be difficult to obtain.
As we know that vaccinating a large population can be difficult, if more than one dose or injection is required. Locating and vaccinating patients can be difficult in places where doctors are scarce. Also, having the same patients return for their booster vaccinations can be even more complicated.
"Another aspect is the hope that this would be single dose. We hope we can get a robust response with one dose," said Wannemuehler.
The uses of this vaccination may even extend beyond plague.
"If this technology works here, it's completely transferable to any protein, with minor changes," said Wannemuehler.