FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– Researchers at Colorado State University are closing in on a coronavirus vaccine which could be consumed orally, which would make the medication drastically more accessible to people all around the world. The drug, predominantly focused around a probiotic found in yogurt and cheeses, would be simply packaged and shipping in masses, which common needle-delivered medications can’t do.
Gregg Dean, Head of CSU’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas a $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes for Health funded the research. The university has dropped many non-COVID-19 related researches to focus on creating vaccines for coronavirus.
“It has been a crazy time,” Dean said. “We have been ramping up all of our COVID-19 research as quickly as possible.”
Dean said his team of researchers believe lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic, can be altered to protect mucous membranes which COVID-19 typically targets.
“We know that it interacts with our immune system. And, it has an innate capacity,” Dean said. “We are changing it. We are modifying it, and now it is a drug.”
By consuming the product, rather than it being injected, the vaccine could directly apply itself to the respiration system and more.
“That is where we are putting the vaccine, right at those mucus membranes,” Dean said. “And, allow the bacterium to drive an immune response against the virus, that hopefully protect people.”
Most vaccines which are delivered by syringe need to be refrigerated, and distributed by trained medical professionals.
If CSU is successful at creating the consumable vaccine for coronavirus, Dean said production could be done quickly, with medications delivered to our community, and even third world countries, with relative ease.
“It can be manufactured quickly and cheaply. And, it can be distributed without being refrigerated,” Dean said. “Developing a vaccine is very difficult. Many more fail than succeed. So, we have to be realistic.”
Dean hoped a product would soon begin testing in animals, before moving forward with distribution to humans.