Oz scientists developing edible vaccine

Melbourne: Australian scientists claim to
be on the verge of developing a revolutionary vaccine which
can be consumed with food instead of being injected.

According to a report by a news agency, clinical
trials led by Nobel Prize winner Barry Marshall have
identified certain strains of a stomach bacteria which are
safe to be used in humans as the basis for edible vaccines.

Marshall and his team will now apply for approval to
trial their first edible vaccine containing a bug with a flu
vaccine attached to it within a year, the report said.

"The next step is to submit this data with an
application to government bodies like the TGA (Therapeutic
Goods Administration) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
in the US, perhaps, for the next study which would be to put a
vaccine into bacteria we have chosen to show we can vaccinate
somebody," Marshall said.

"The next trial will not be a giant study but it may
be 30-100 participants" he added.

The tests on 30 people were performed by Marshall
along with his team of 15 scientists at his biotech company
Onde in Perth.

The scientists injected five strains of bacteria
Helicobacter pylori - a cancer-causing stomach bug - into five
groups of six participants to find out if they would cause any

The bugs were collected from elderly people in Sweden
who had carried the bugs all their lives but never showed any
symptoms. They easily infected the trial participants, who
suffered none or only minor side-effects such as occasional
stomach upsets.

Three of the bug strains lasted longer than three
months, while the other two disappeared in the same period.
The results suggested the bugs were safe for scientists to
attach vaccines for delivery through the wall of the stomach
instead of a syringe.

"One of the things we might be able to do with this
vaccine is vaccinate people for the long term," Marshall said,
adding, "the (bacterium) strain will sit there and vaccinate
you for weeks or months.

"Something like that could be advantageous in the
future for things like TB or HIV. Then there are others which
colonise you temporarily which would be good for things like
flu vaccines," he said.

The bugs were given to the participants in the form of
a chicken broth during the trials.

For the next trials, the scientists plan to give
participants one dose of the edible vaccine, possibly in the
form of a yoghurt which Marshall believes is ideal for people
to eat as a vaccine.

Marshall, who won a Nobel Prize in 2005 for
discovering Helicobacter which causes stomach ulcers, said
there was huge potential for edible vaccines.

They would be an easy way of providing booster
vaccines to baby boomers as well as others to fight off
hepatitis B, malaria and swine flu.

"A lot of baby boomers haven`t had vaccines since they
were kids and they are wearing off and they can develop things
like whooping cough and chicken pox," Marshall said.

"We could have different strength vaccines for
different purposes. Some could be boosters while others could
be life-saving vaccines."


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