New polio vaccine tricks the body's immune system into fighting the disease

A new polio vaccine that can trick the body’s immune system into fighting the disease is being developed by an international team of researchers.

To accomplish the ruse, the scientists are trying to design an empty protein shell that looks and behaves like the real polio virus. It is hoped that the copycat virus will trigger the body’s immune system, according to the BBC.

Teams from the U.K.’s University of Leeds Faculty of Biological Scientists and National Institute for Biological Standards are running the project along with Harvard University.

"This is an entirely new strategic approach against polio. The project is not about improving the efficiency of the current types of vaccine,” Dr. Nicola Stonehouse from the University of Leeds told the BBC. "Our intention is to design and produce a replica virus particle.

"This means it will be entirely safe to use as it can't ever cause the disease, and, unlike current vaccines, can be produced without needing to grow large amounts of the infectious virus."

The first step in the effort is to evaluate whether the replica virus works against the real virus. If the project succeeds, it could lead directly to the development of a vaccine that can be injected.

Polio is a virus that is mainly transmitted to humans through food and water. It is highly contagious and can lead to paralysis.