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Researchers chew over edible vaccines

Patients may soon no longer need to fear needles and injections as a study continues to explore the possibilities of edible vaccines.

The study, run by researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA), Ondek and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, will look at how the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers, Helicobacter pylori, can be used as a carrier for ingestible vaccines.

Currently, the human body’s protective mechanisms stop most vaccines being absorbed orally, but H. pylori naturally attaches itself to the stomach wall and causes irritation, which could provide an effective pathway into the bloodstream for an edible vaccine.

Two scientists from UWA, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005 after they discovered that H. pylori caused stomach ulcers. Their discovery has changed the way ulcers are managed and cured.

The latest trials continue a study that began two years ago; however, to date only six of the 24 adults needed have volunteered for the study. Researchers will screen volunteers, who will be reimbursed for participation, for suitability as trial subjects; however, they need to be healthy and have no known history of H. pylori infection.

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