New oral vaccines could replace needle vaccinations

A team of researchers from Royal Holloway - University of London is developing new oral vaccines for influenza, tuberculosis and Clostridium difficile that could replace vaccines with needles.

Simon Cutting, the lead researcher of the study, and his team developed vaccines using probiotic spores. The scientists used the harmless Bacillus subtilis bacteria to transport antigens and increase immune responses as part of the vaccination process, Medical News Today reports.

"Rather than requiring needle delivery, vaccines based on Bacillus spores can be delivered via a nasal spray, or as an oral liquid or capsule," Cutting said, according to Medical News Today. "Alternatively, they can be administered via a small soluble film placed under the tongue, in a similar way to modern breath fresheners. As spores are exceptionally stable, vaccines based on Bacillus do not require cold-chain storage alleviating a further issue with current vaccine approaches."

Oral vaccines are less painful and are safer to administer, especially in countries where HIV is a significant concern. The needle-free vaccines could also be more cost effective in their productivity and longevity.

Cutting's team conducted trials on the effectiveness of Bacillus-based vaccines for tuberculosis, influenza, tetanus and C. difficile.

"Currently, there is no vaccine against (C. difficile), and although several approaches are currently undergoing clinical trials, none are expected to provide full protection, and new solutions are urgently needed," Cutting said, according to Medical News Today. "Bacillus based vaccines offer distinct advantages as unlike other approaches, oral delivery can cause a more specific immune response in the gastrointestinal tract to fully eliminate C. difficile."