If you hate needles but need a vaccination, MIT might have your back. A recent MIT News article discussed the development of a new type of vaccination that is inhaled directly into the lungs to increase immune responses to respiratory infections or lung cancer. Mucosal surfaces, such as the lining of the respiratory tract, are often the host for viruses. A team of researchers at MIT created a strategy to build up an army of T cells that waits on such surfaces to offer a quick response to viruses.
Not only can the concept work for fighting pathogens that attack the lungs, it can also be used to treat cancer metastasizing to the lungs, or even prevent cancer from developing altogether. The concept isn’t exactly new; there’s already an FDA-approved nasal vaccine for the flu, and an oral vaccine for typhoid. However, these vaccines consist of live viruses, whereas MIT’s is a peptide vaccine which is safer and easier to manufacture.