Good news for spike-averse individuals like myself with the ongoing development of a vaccination method that claims to be as pleasant as drinking a yogurt smoothie:
This new generation vaccine has big benefits beyond eliminating the “Ouch!” factor. Delivering the vaccine to the gut — rather than injecting it into a muscle — harnesses the full power of the body’s primary immune force, which is located in the small intestine.
“Nature isn’t used to seeing antigens injected into a muscle,” said Barrett, who also is a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “The place where your immune system is designed to encounter and mount a defense against antigens is your gut.”
[from Physorg][image from Dannynic on flickr]
A team of researchers has engineered a live form of salmonella that can deliver a vaccine. The modified bacterium eliminates all the things you don’t want in salmonella, the leading cause of food-borne illness. It’s also designed to destroy itself so that it’s not released into the environment. In the petri-dish experiment,
In old science fiction movies, mad scientists and the like always seem to have, somewhere around their lab, a brain in a jar.
I never much saw the point of that. How about something really useful: an immune system in a jar? (Via New Scientist Invention Blog.)
Invented by George Lewis, a virologist at the University of Maryland, this simple replica immune system would allow scientists to test vaccines in the laboratory to make sure they trigger the production of antibodies, without having to take the sometimes dangerous step of actually testing the vaccine in a living human being. This could greatly speed the process of producing new vaccines.
They simply culture white blood cells in the presence of an antigen (which could be a virus, or could be a vaccine designed to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against a specific virus). The cultured cells respond by producing new cells that make antibodies against the antigen.
Mad scientists, however, will probably want to stick with the old brain-in-the-jar: cultured white blood cells just don’t have the same visual impact.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons.)