New Approach to Polio Vaccines Proves Effective
Researchers have discovered new ways to produce an effective vaccine against polio that do not require live viruses. Previously, virus-like particles—VLPs—which are used in vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B (hep B), for example, were too unstable for use in polio vaccines.
When warmed for use in vaccines, poliovirus VLPs change shape, making them unusable, but researchers have now identified ways to prevent this damage from occurring. By modifying VLPs for poliovirus, scientists can improve their stability enough for use as vaccines.
Although polio is on the verge of being eliminated worldwide, continued vaccination will be necessary to prevent the disease from recurring. Current technology requires the growth of tremendous quantities of live poliovirus, which is then killed to manufacture vaccines, presenting a risk of the virus escaping into the environment. This new discovery could eliminate this risk.
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