Powdered measles vaccine, safe in PhI, could aid vaccination in developing world

A powdered measles vaccine could mean a cheaper option for the developing world that eliminates storage, contamination and waste challenges. And researchers now have one that looks safe in Phase I.

Robert Sievers--Courtesy of CIRES

In a Gates Foundation-backed study of 60 healthy, measles-immune men, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Serum Institute of India and elsewhere found no clinically relevant side effects and some evidence of a positive immune response to the vaccine, according to a paper published last week in the journal Vaccine.

The vaccine, made of fine dry powder and delivered with a puff of air, could cut out some key hurdles to vaccination in resource-poor parts of the world, Robert Sievers, paper coauthor and CEO of Aktiv-Dry--which makes one of the devices used to test the vaccine--said in a statement.

"You don't need to worry about needles; you don't need to worry about reconstituting vaccines with clean water; you don't need to worry about disposal of sharps waste or other vaccine wastage issues; and dry delivery is cheaper," he said.

Vaccinemakers are looking for dry powder solutions for emerging markets in other disease fields, too. Merck ($MRK) JV Hilleman Labs, for one, is working on a low-cost cholera option that doesn't require the large quantities of water or refrigeration that competitors from Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) subsidiary Crucell and Sanofi ($SNY) do.

Next up will be pivotal Phase II/III trials that will measure immune response to compare the vaccine's effectiveness, and those tests could include participants who are not yet immune to measles. "It is very good news that we encountered no problems, and now we can move on," Sievers said.

- read the release
- see the study abstract