A recipient of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award is researching a novel method for packaging and delivery of orally consumed vaccines utilizing pollen.
The exterior of a pollen grain is a shell made of a naturally durable, non-allergenic polymer. The contents of the shell can be cleaned out, eliminating the allergy-inducing materials and providing a neutral ‘suitcase’ to be filled with vaccines.
Traditional oral tablets encounter obstacles from the body, such as stomach acids, which reduce efficiency in absorption of the medication. The increased durability of the pollen carrier is thought to offer an advantage for better absorption through the intestine.
“Because pollen shells are durable… they can potentially survive inside the body and safeguard a vaccine until it can be delivered,” states an announcement from DARPA. “All this means that along with the traditional image of pollen as airborne particles that cause headaches and sneezing, pollen could also eventually be known as an edible vaccine delivery vehicle.”
Oral vaccines provide the benefit of inducing both systemic and mucosal immune responses for enhanced protection. Additionally, such vaccines would be more easily transported and administered to deployed troops or to resource limited environments.
Read more at DARPA’s official website: Pollen – Can Human’s Seasonal Bane Become a Tool in the Fight Against Disease?