Measles vaccine: Inhaled, not injected

JOHNS HOPKINS (US) — A dry powder measles vaccine that is inhaled rather than injected could help protect children in developing countries where giving conventional vaccination safely is often difficult.

The new vaccine was studied in rhesus macaques for a Jan. 31 report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“An effective dry powder vaccine would be tremendously helpful in less-developed regions where resources are limited,” says Diane Griffin, senior author of the report and chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University.

The current measles vaccine requires two injections to provide full immunity, one given at 9 to 12 months of age and another given later in childhood.

Special training for needle and syringe injections is needed to administer the vaccine, which requires refrigeration and is shipped as a powder that must be reconstituted and kept on ice in field clinics. Injections increase the risk of exposure to blood borne diseases.

“This (dry) vaccine can be shipped as powder and does not require reconstitution or special training to administer, which could greatly increase the ease and safety of measles vaccination worldwide,” Griffin says.

The new dry powder measles vaccine provided macaques with complete protection from measles with a single dose. The vaccine was delivered by aerosol using either one of two dry powder inhalers, the PuffHaler and the BD Solovent. No adverse effects were observed.

Before a vaccine was developed in 1963, there were 130 million cases of measles each year resulting in more than 7 million deaths annually. Measles deaths were estimated to be 164,000 in 2008.

Human trials for the dry powder measles vaccine are in development in India.

“The tests of inhalable dry powder vaccine at Johns Hopkins provide confidence that it can safely be tested in human volunteers after regulatory permission is given by Indian authorities,” says Robert Sievers, professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and a fellow of the Cooperative Institute of Research in Environmental Sciences.

Sievers is CEO of Aktiv-Dry LLC and co-inventor of the PuffHaler and the new vaccine microparticles.

The research was supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foundation for National Institutes of Health. Additional support was provided by the Marjorie Gilbert Scholarship Fund.

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