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Measles Vaccine May Come in Powdered Form in Future

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Vaccination is a safe and effective method of avoiding the measles, an infectious disease that seems to be making a comeback recently.

From January to October this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already reported over 600 confirmed cases of the disease. The number is the highest since measles was confirmed to be eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) likewise show that measles has killed nearly 146,000 individuals last year, majority were children.

Health experts acknowledge that while vaccination is an effective way of fighting measles, the current way of administering it by injection is associated with some problems.

"Delivering vaccines in the conventional way, with needle injections, poses some serious challenges, especially in resource-poor parts of the world," said Robert Sievers, from the University of Colorado Boulder's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

In a bid to improve the coverage of vaccination and ease the delivery of measles vaccines, Sievers and colleagues created an inhalable dry powder measles vaccine (MVDP) that does not require painful injections.

The dry delivery technique that the researchers developed also eliminates other problems associated with administering measles vaccine conventionally such as the need for liquid storage, possible contamination as this do not require reconstituting vaccines with clean water, concerns over disposing sharps and vaccine wastes. It is also cheaper.

For the Phase 1 clinical trial of the dry powder vaccine, Sievers and colleagues involved 60 healthy men between 18 and 45 years old. The researchers selected subjects who were already immune to the disease as a precaution and then randomly assigned them into three groups.

In two of these groups, the researchers delivered the powder to the subjects using two devices namely Aktiv-Dry PuffHaler and BD Technologies Solovent. Those in the third group, on the other hand, received the typical under-the-skin liquid injection.

The researchers found that the all the participants responded similarly and no clinically significant side effects were observed with those who received the powdered vaccine albeit the researchers could not yet make comparisons on the vaccines' effectiveness because the participants were already immune to measles.

"MVDP was well tolerated in all subjects. Most subjects had high baseline measles antibody titer which limited ability to measure the serologic responses, and may have limited the adverse events following vaccination," the researchers reported in their study published in the journal Vaccine on Nov. 28.

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