A new vaccine plan aims to create one that is inhaled with hopes at targeting the problem directly at the nose and the mouth. Typical shots require two doses for maximum effectiveness, the hope for an inhaled vaccine will generate a better response and not require as many doses. The goal is to prevent the pathogen from growing in the nose and mouth and then spreading to the rest of the body.
Frances Lund, an immunologist from the University of Alabama at Birmingham who has been working with biotech Altimmune Inc. on an early-stage nasal inoculation said, “Local immunity matters. The vaccines that can be delivered to generate that will have some advantages over vaccines that are delivered systemically.” He continued, “When you’re thinking about trying to deliver that across the world, if you don’t need to have an injectable vaccine, your compliance goes up because people don’t like getting shots. But secondly, the level of expertise needed to administer that vaccine is significantly different.”
Something different from regular injected vaccines, is that the nose, mouth, and lungs which are targeted for inhaled vaccines, contain high levels of immune proteins. These are called IgA, and they give people better protection against viruses that attack our respiratory systems. The goal here with the inhaled vaccinations is to help activate and boost these immune proteins with the hopes of improving the chances of blocking transmission.
Michael Diamond, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St. Louis said, “The first generation of vaccines are probably going to protect a lot of people. I think it’s the second- and third-generation vaccines — and maybe intranasal vaccines will be a key component of this — that ultimately are going to be necessary. Otherwise, we’ll continue to have community transmission.” In a small study, Diamond and his research team found that inhaled vaccines created a strong immune response.
A biotech company in Gaithersburg MD, Altimmune, plans to enter human testing on a nasal vaccine after some positive results in mice, and new testing of an inhaled vaccine have begun at Oxford University and Imperial College London. In Oxford, they made this inhalable through an aerosol and the data is expected early in 2021. Robin Shattock, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College said, “We don’t know whether it will work well, but if it does, then it could be very important.” The plan is to test the inhaled vaccine in a trial of 20,000 people by year-end. Shattock said, “This is a virus that’s transmitted through your respiratory tract, so if you want a vaccine that will really prevent infection and onward transmission you want to have an antibody response in your nose, in your lungs. The most efficient way to induce that is by inoculating through that route.”
These inhaled vaccines are new and currently do not have much data, but as they are being tested results will be published, be sure to check in with the ABN Blog regularly for these updates.