A new research undertaken at Penn State demonstrates an inhalable aerogel filled with DNA that encodes the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein effectively induces an immune reaction against coronavirus. The outcome of clinical trials on lungs of mice validated this. The aerogel could find use to manufacture an inhalable vaccine that works as a barrier for the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by preventing the virus from establishing an infection in the lungs.
The potential clinical benefits of an inhalable formulation are several compared to injectable vaccine, stated the lead author of the study. Avoidance of needles is one. Inhalable vaccines may also help to increase the rate of vaccination because of fear of injections among many people. In fact, the efficacy of a vaccine may be high, but if they are not available, it is of no use.
Importantly, inhalable vaccines may have higher shelf stability than traditional vaccines, stated one of the research associates involved in the initiative.
On the contrary, injectable COVID-19 vaccines cause a systemic immune response, stated a professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences. While, the injectable vaccine is effective at withstanding SARS-CoV-2 infections, but lacks potency as an inhalable vaccine to stop the infection at the location of the entry of the virus into the body.
Meanwhile, the current vaccines are not very good to prevent transmission. This in because they allow the virus to reproduce in the body, even for a short duration, and then transmit to other individuals. On the other hand, an inhalable vaccine elicits local immunity at the primary site of infection to rapidly neutralize and eliminate SARS-CoV-2 without the need for inflammatory response feature of systemic vaccination.
Earlier, a gel-like material called an ‘aerogel’ was developed and patented by the team.