Inhalable measles vaccine soon in India

Serum Institute of India will be conducting the trials of the new vaccine in the country.
"The phase-I trials are expected to begin by the first quarter of next year once the animal testing, currently under process, is completed," Prasad Kulkarni, Additional Medical Director, Serum Institute of India said.

The vaccine is expected to hit the market in 2.5-3 years after the trials begin, Kulkarni added. The US scientists, who have developed the dry powder vaccine against measles, say the inhalable vaccine will reduce the risks of needle infections like HIV and hepatitis and greatly benefit developing countries.

"The dry powder vaccine deposits in the respiratory tract and dissolves rapidly in the moisture naturally present, so no water-for-injection is needed," Robert Sievers, who led the team which developed the vaccine, said in an email interview.

"The vaccine may not only reduce the risk of infection from unsterilized needles, but may also prove more effective against the disease," the senior scientist in the University of Colorado said.

"Dry powder vaccines generally are more stable than liquid vaccines. When water is added to make an injectable vaccine the unused liquid vaccine must be discarded the same day for safety reasons," Sievers said.

Researchers expect the new vaccine to be more effective as the drug delivery route mimics the natural route of measles infection, Kulkarni said.

To create an inhalable vaccine, Sievers and his team developed a patented process called the 'Carbon Dioxide-Assisted Nebulization with a Bubble Dryer (CAN-BD)'.
In the process the weakened measles virus is mixed with 'supercritical' carbon dioxide -— part gas, part liquid -— to produce microscopic bubbles and droplets, which are then dried to make an inhalable powder.

The powder is then puffed into a small, cylindrical, plastic sack, with an opening like the neck of a plastic water bottle, and administered. "By taking one deep breath from the sack, a child could be effectively vaccinated," Sievers said. India has been chosen for the trials because according to WHO estimates there are still more measles-related deaths in India than any other country, he said.

Measles and related complications account for over two lakh deaths every year in India and nearly 10 per cent of pre-school mortality is caused by the deadly disease.

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