An oral rotavirus vaccine that is cheaper and easier to use than the current
vaccine is being designed by U.S. drug maker Merck and Britain's Welcome Trust
charity. The vaccine aims at protecting against rotavirus infections. The vaccine
will be in the form of granules that will dissolve in the mouth and are easy to
store and administer. Every year, rotavirus claims the lives of more than 5oo,ooo
The currently available rotavirus vaccines are made by Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). They have to be kept in cold storage thus making the transportation and delivery process a little complex and costly. The researchers will look for features like heat stability, ease of administration, package size and low cost. The team is also working with Medicine in Need (MEND) for developing advanced drug and vaccine delivery technologies.
Hilleman's chief executive, Altaf Lal said that they hope to be ready with a product within 4 years which could then be manufactured by drug makers and sold at an affordable price to developing countries. He also said that if these rotavirus immunizations went on successfully they would further think about developing such oral vaccines for other diseases to help people in the developing countries.