Inhalable measles vax holds promise for other diseases

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder believe a dry-powder, inhalable vaccine developed for measles prevention and slated for human clinical trials later this year in India may lead to similar--and cheaper--vaccines for illnesses ranging from tuberculosis to cervical cancer.

The measles vaccine involves mixing "supercritical" carbon dioxide with a weakened form of the measles virus. The process produces microscopic bubbles and droplets that are dried to make the inhalable powder, which is dispensed into the mouths of patients using a small, cylindrical plastic sack with an opening like the neck of a plastic water bottle. "A person taking a deep breath from the sack is effectively vaccinated," says Professor Robert Sievers, who led the research.

"One of our primary goals of this project is to get rid of needles and syringes, because they frighten some people, they hurt, they can transmit diseases and there are issues with needle disposal," Sievers adds. Furthermore, the technology might have application in the search for effective, less expensive ways to treat human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer, according to

Sievers says his team also is looking at creating a lozenge version of the measles vaccine, which would be "something like breath mint that you put underneath the tongue," the Telegraph reports.

Phase I of the clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of the measles inhalant product are slated to start this summer in Pune, India, and will involve about 180 people. Phase II of the trials are expected to involve a larger number of patients.

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