Researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have developed nanoparticles loaded with antigen protein which could lead to the first oral hepatitis B vaccine in the world.
The oral vaccine could become a reality by 2021, doing away the need for injections and booster doses which are administered by the way of syringes, according to Dr Amit Dhinda, Professor of Pathology at AIIMS.
‘The hepatitis B vaccine developed by scientists at AIIMS would be a cost effective and non-invasive method suitable for mass immunization.’
The researchers studied the new technology by testing on mice. The researchers observed that superior antibody response with higher antigen levels was beyond two months after single administration.
"Two months in mice is equivalent to nine to 10 years in human beings. The current practice of immunization against hepatitis-B are injectable vaccines and require two boosters, the first after one month and the second after six months," said Dhinda.
The researchers used polymer material with a detergent-like substance to create these nanoparticles. They were then loaded with antigen protein segments, which were transported to the body of a mouse.
"The vaccine, once prepared, would be safe, cost-effective and non-invasive method suitable for mass immunization. Also, it will be of great benefit for the rural masses who after the first shot of the vaccine, don't come back for the boosters. Also, in rural settings, needles are not properly sterilized, so there is the risk of infection."
"The vaccine will be administered orally; it will be a painless method. We now have to test it on humans, and if successful, it will be the first oral vaccine against Hepatitis B in the world," Dhinda claimed.
The research was funded by the department of biotechnology. The research is published in a medical journal Vaccine
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver. It can cause lifelong infection, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. India has over 40 million Hepatitis B infected patients, second only to China.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2-5% of India's population may be affected by the virus. Each year, one lakh patients die of viral Hepatitis (including Hepatitis B and C) in the country.