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Scientists Develop Dry, Inhalable Measles Vaccine, Will Begin Testing In India This Summer

CBSNews.com reports on the development of a dry, inhalable measles vaccine by researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder), who hope that their work will “help pave the way for the inexpensive treatment of a range of other illnesses” (Cooper, 5/5).  

“The inhalable vaccine bypasses the need for icky needles by mixing liquid carbon dioxide with weakened measles virus,” Popular Science writes in a piece that examines how scientists created the powder that patients can then inhale via a “nozzle similar to the neck of a plastic water bottle” (Hsu, 5/5).

“It’s not just that needles are scary to some but they also have the potential to become disease transmitters in poor counties when people reuse them,” Robert Sievers, a biochemist at CU-Boulder, who led the development of the inhalable vaccine said, according to CBSNews.com. Inadequate access to clean water and storage can lead vaccines to become contaminated, Sievers explained (Cooper, 5/5).

A CU-Boulder press release notes that “[i]n 2008 there were an estimated 164,000 measles deaths in children worldwide – nearly 450 deaths a day – and India accounts for about two-thirds of global measles deaths in infants and children,” according to the release (5/5).

Clinical trials to test the safety of the inhalable measles vaccine are to be launched in Pune, India, this summer, ANI/oneindia reports (5/6).

“The cost of an inhalant dose for measles developed by Sievers and his team is about 26 cents – roughly the cost for an injectable form of the dose,” the CU-Boulder press release continues. “The new technology could potentially be used to deliver tiny antibiotics particles to treat people with [multi-drug resistant] tuberculosis, said Sievers,” according to the release (5/5).

U.N. Allocates $5.6 Million For Zimbabwe Measles Vaccine Program To Quell Outbreak

In related news, the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund on Thursday announced it had released $5.6 million dollars “to help Zimbabwe fight a widening measles outbreaks that has claimed nearly 400 lives since late last year,” VOA News reports. According to the news service, more than 6,200 cases of measles have been reported, resulting in the deaths of over 380 children. “The funds will enable health authorities to protect about five million children through an emergency vaccination program being launched by the Ministry of Health, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization and other partners,” VOA News writes (Nyaira, 5/6).

Also reporting on the measles outbreak in Zimbabwe, ZimOnline examines how international aid agencies responded when the country faced a “cholera epidemic – described by the WHO as the worst in Africa in more than 15 years” (Sixholo, 5/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.