Needle-free vaccine for ear infections

Needle-free vaccine for ear infections

Scientists are developing a needle-free vaccine, which targets the bacteria responsible for nearly one half of all ear infections, and gets absorbed through the skin via a small, dime-sized patch.

Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in US found that when the experimental vaccine is applied to the outer ear, it appears to pack a one-two punch against nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI).

It attacks key parts of the bacteria’s defenses and kick-starts the body’s own immune system to help clear out the infection. This dual mechanism helps explain earlier animal research conducted by the team that showed the vaccine could be used as a either a preventative or a treatment for ear infections, which are commonly treated with antibiotics.

However, NTHI bacteria build biofilms, sticky protective covers that evade antibiotics and allow the bacteria to flourish in the middle ear, nasal passages and lungs to cause repeat infections.

“For a child, a non-needle vaccine has obvious benefits, but our research also shows that delivering the therapy through the skin sets off beneficial immune responses we might not see otherwise,” said Laura Novotny, Chief Research Associate at the research institute at Nationwide Children’s.

The experimental therapeutic appears to target key proteins used by the bacteria to build biofilms and cling to the cells lining the middle ear.

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