Preventing ear infections in the future: Delivering vaccine through the skin

May 21, 2009

An experimental vaccine applied the surface of the skin appears to protect against certain types of ear infections. Scientists from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, report their findings today at the 109th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Philadelphia.

"Our data are the first to show that transcutaneous immunization is an effective way to prevent experimental ear infections and lays the foundation for an effective, yet simple, inexpensive - and potentially transformative - way to deliver vaccines," says Laura Novotny, one of the study researchers.

Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is one of the three main bacterial causes of otitis media (OM), an infection or inflammation of the . OM is one of the most significant health problems for children in the United States, costing approximately $5 billion annually. It is estimated that 83% of all children will experience at least one ear infection prior to 3 years of age.

Currently infections are managed with antibiotics; however, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant is of concern. Surgery to insert tubes through the tympanic membrane relieves painful symptoms, but the procedure is invasive and requires the child to be under . Thus, it is necessary to develop different ways to treat or preferably prevent this disease.

"We have designed several vaccine candidates which target proteins on the outer surface of this . Previous work in our lab showed that after immunization by injection, each of the three vaccine candidates prevented experimental ear infections caused by NTHi. In this study, we now wanted to test an alternative but potentially equally effective method to deliver a vaccine," says Novotny.

The method, known as transcutaneous immunization, involved placing a droplet of each vaccine onto the ear and rubbing it into the skin.

In this study, four groups of chinchillas were immunized with one of the three vaccine candidates. A fourth group received a placebo. Each vaccine was placed on the ears of chinchillas once a week for three weeks. All animals were then inoculated with NTHi through the nose and directly into the middle ears. Animals that received the vaccines were able to very rapidly reduce, or completely eliminate NTHi from the nose and ears, but animals that received a placebo did not.

Source: American Society for Microbiology

Explore further: Top Japan lab dismisses ground-breaking stem cell study

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Antibiotics found to increasingly fail

Apr 09, 2007

Pediatricians in the United States are increasingly finding that antibiotics are not always ideal for treating ear infections, a report says.

New insights could lead to a better pneumococcal vaccine

Sep 22, 2008

Discovery of a new, previously unknown mechanism of immunity suggests that there may be a better way to protect vulnerable children and adults against Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) infection, say researchers at ...

Recommended for you

Top Japan lab dismisses ground-breaking stem cell study

Dec 26, 2014

Japan's top research institute on Friday hammered the final nail in the coffin of what was once billed as a ground-breaking stem cell study, dismissing it as flawed and saying the work could have been fabricated.

Research sheds light on what causes cells to divide

Dec 24, 2014

When a rapidly-growing cell divides into two smaller cells, what triggers the split? Is it the size the growing cell eventually reaches? Or is the real trigger the time period over which the cell keeps growing ...

Locking mechanism found for 'scissors' that cut DNA

Dec 24, 2014

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered what keeps an enzyme from becoming overzealous in its clipping of DNA. Since controlled clipping is required for the production of specialized immune system proteins, ...

Scrapie could breach the species barrier

Dec 24, 2014

INRA scientists have shown for the first time that the pathogens responsible for scrapie in small ruminants (prions) have the potential to convert the human prion protein from a healthy state to a pathological ...

Extracting bioactive compounds from marine microalgae

Dec 24, 2014

Microalgae can produce high value health compounds like omega-3s , traditionally sourced from fish. With declining fish stocks, an alternative source is imperative. Published in the Pertanika Journal of Tr ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.