AIIMS is steps away from oral vaccine against Hepatitis B

AIIMS is steps away from oral vaccine against Hepatitis B

Will be first vaccine if research result turns positive on humans

AIIMS is steps away from oral vaccine against Hepatitis B

AIIMS is a few steps away from developing an oral vaccine against Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a viral infection which attacks the liver and is transmitted through contact with blood or other body fluid of an infected person.

If the research has positive results while the trial is conducted on humans, it would be the first of its vaccine in the world, said AIIMS doctors. The research has been funded by the Department of Biotechnology under the Centre’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Currently, immunisation against Hepatitis B involves injectable vaccines and requires ususally two boosters.

According to the World Health Organisation recommendations, infants should receive Hepatitis B vaccine preferably within 24 hours of birth. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. The researchers at AIIMS have developed nano-size spheres or nanoparticles loaded with antigen protein segments.

Experiment on mice

The experiment was carried out on a group of mice. Scientists used polymer material with a detergent-like substance and then loaded them with antigen protein segments.

After a single administration of the oral dose of the nanoparticles in the animals, it was found that there was superior antibody response with higher antigen levels for the next two months.

This means the immune system of the mice can help them fight the Hepatitis B virus for a period of two months.

“Two months in mice is equivalent to around nine-10 years in human beings. At the moment, immunisation against  Hepatitis B virus are injectable vaccines,” said Dr Amit Dinda, professor of pathology at the AIIMS.

At the moment, the rural population do not return for the subsequent shots of vaccination after the first shot. There are other risks involved like improper sterilisation of needles in the rural areas which expose people to infection, said Dr Dinda.

“The vaccine once prepared would be a safe, cost-effective and non-invasive method suitable for mass immunisation.”

If the experiment is carried out as planned and if it yields results on humans, the oral vaccine would become a reality by 2021, according to researchers.

Around the globe, an estimated 240 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and more than 7,80,000 people die every year due to complications of hepatitis B, including cirrhosis and liver cancer, according to the WHO.

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