2 December 2002
New research promises cure by mouth
A RESEARCHER at Aston University in Birmingham has become the first in the UK to investigate a new type of vaccination delivery that could revolutionise how we are protected against diseases including flu, hepatitis and, most excitingly, cancer.
Dr Yvonne Perrie from the School of Life & Health Sciences has received a research grant from The Royal Society for a brand new project to investigate the potential of delivering DNA vaccines by mouth.
"The patient would be given a small solution of liquid containing synthetic substances called liposomes," said Dr Perrie. "These are small carrier systems with a structure similar to cell membranes. Traditional vaccinations often use live or killed virus or, less effectively, the protein component of a virus to give the body immunity - the DNA method will use the genetic instructions for parts of a virus or invading organism to give the body the information that it needs to create immunity to the virus or cancer."
Dr Perrie continued: "My research is currently focusing on DNA vaccines for Hepatitis B and Influenza, but the beauty of the new delivery mechanism is that it can be used for other infective diseases once the new mechanism is in place, including cancer and microbial infections. Theoretically we would be able to vaccinate people and tell their body to reject any cancer cells that it produced."
Interest in DNA vaccines began in the 1990s but Dr Perrie is the first researcher to investigate the application of oral liposomes. DNA vaccines that are administered to the patient via less convenient and more painful routes such as intramuscular injection are currently in clinical trials, but Dr Perrie’s method will be much easier for patients to take.
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