posted 10-16-2000 12:08 PM
Original Article from The Times
Shampoo vaccine may end injections
By Helen Rumbelow, Medical Reporter
Painful injections could soon be replaced by a “vaccine shampoo” after a radical discovery in the way that the body’s immune system works.
Scientists have developed the shampoo after finding that the surface of the skin offers a better immune response than an injection into the flesh.
Professor Tang Dechu, a dermatologist at the University of Alabama, said the new treatment had revolutionised traditional thinking about vaccines. “We envisage that vaccines applied directly onto the skin will become the main way of vaccinating people in future. Injecting with a needle is painful and less effective.
“It would be really useful in Third World countries, ( it avoids the need for medical personnel, who are in short supply, and eliminates possible transmission of HIV through needles.”
His research, to be published in the journal Nature Medicine, showed that one of the skin’s main functions is to act as a barrier to germs, so it contains countless immune cells that need stimulating.
“The skin is not just a sack to prevent your organs falling on the floor. It is constantly reacting to germs,” he said.
The skin is so effective at repelling outside substances that a normal vaccine cannot be absorbed, but Professor Tang discovered a virus which, linked with the vaccine, safely acts as a “carrier”, allowing the vaccine to penetrate the skin.
The US Navy has given Professor Tang £2 million to pay for human trials, after trials in which he successfully vaccinated monkeys for influenza, hepatitis B, rabies, tetanus and malaria using this method.