One of the current scientific obstacles to getting more people vaccinated is the lack of many effective oral vaccines. Most current vaccinations are based on injection preparations. Tablet-based vaccines can be cheaper and easy to manage, but the development of oral administration methods has proved challenging, largely due to the harsh nature of the human gastrointestinal system.
Biotech company Vaxart has been working on the form of oral vaccines. Its latest milestone comes from an impressive Phase 2 trial that demonstrated the efficacy of oral influenza vaccines. The randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial sedited 179 healthy adults. Some of the participants received an experimental oral vaccine, either fluorourethane (the most commonly used flu vaccine) or a placebo. After about 90 days, all subjects received a nasal infection of the influenza virus.
In addition to the absence of serious adverse effects, oral vaccines have been shown to be more effective than current market-leading injectable vaccines. Compared to placebo, the clinical symptoms of oral vaccine subjects were reduced by 39% and the infection rate decreased by 47%. These results were slightly better than the vaccine-ready queue, which reduced clinical diseaseby diseaseby by only 27 per cent and infection rate by 43 per cent.
Vaxart says the results provide a clinical proof of concept for Vaxart’s know-how and oral vaccines, which can at least be as protective as Sanofi Fluzone, a flu vaccine. Clinical research results have also shown that oral tablet vaccines are protected primarily through mucous membrane immunity, which is a potentially critical factor in improving the performance of influenza vaccines.
A convenient and effective tablet vaccine could significantly increase current vaccination rates, benefiting high-risk groups and the population as a whole. These results also confirm the value of oral vaccine platforms, especially for mucosal pathogens such as influenza, norovirus, RSV and coronaviruses such as SARS, MERS and, more recently, viruses in China.
The new study was published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.