The ultimate aim of our work is to develop vaccines that will be taken by pregnant women and which will then protect babies from catching infections caused by, for example, HIV, hepatitis B and Zika, during birth. The vaccines will be taken by mouth, but will have their effects in the mother’s vagina. The oral route of vaccine taking has been chosen as this route is expected to have higher acceptability and be cheaper than injections, which have to be sterile, need to be given by medically-trained personnel and can be painful. The cost factor is especially relevant in LMIC, for poorer people and where healthcare costs are largely borne by individuals, rather than the state.
For oral vaccines to have an influence in the vagina, they have to be prepared using specific chemicals, such that once a vaccine is swallowed, it is only processed in the large bowel (and nowhere else in the gut). In this project, we will: i) identify those chemicals, ii) prepare the vaccines, and iii) test whether the prepared vaccines will be processed in the large bowel following swallowing.
The results of this study will be used to apply for follow-on funding to determine whether such vaccines will have an influence in the mother’s vagina and protect newborns during birth.
Dr Sudaxshina Murdan
Reader in Pharmaceutics
UCL School of Pharmacy
University College London
London, United Kingdom
Prof. Abdul Basit, University College London, United Kingdom
Dr Fatme Mawas, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, MHRA, United Kingdom
Project duration: 8 months
Dr Chris Gale from Imperial College London provided new insights about the impact of COVID-19 on the health of neonates in a webinar organised by IMPRINT.