Scientists at MIT have invented a new technology that could someday be used to deliver all childhood vaccines in a single shot.
The new technology was successfully tested in mice and reported in the journal Science by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The technology uses tiny silicone nano-capsules that are shaped like coffee cups, filled with the vaccine, and sealed with a lid. The capsules are designed to degrade slowly inside the body and release their contents at specific times.
The researchers successfully tested capsules that released their contents at exactly 9 days, 20 days, or 41 days in mice. They have also developed capsules that break down hundreds of days later, opening up the possibility of delivering multiple booster shots.
Another advantage of an all-in-one jab is that it reduces the risk of side effects. It also allows for a more constant delivery of each dose.
According to Professor Robert Langer of MIT:
“For the first time, we can create a library of tiny, encased vaccine particles, each programmed to release at a precise, predictable time, so that people could potentially receive a single injection that, in effect, would have multiple boosters already built into it.”
Children in the U.S. are currently required to get dozens of different shots before they enter school. Babies are routinely immunized against diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis, Hib, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumococcal, and meningitis.
If all of these vaccinations could be given in a single shot, experts say it might help eradicate diseases by encouraging more people to get vaccinated. The technology would also be useful in rural parts of the world where children do not go the doctor very frequently.