As good chefs stress, presentation matters. The same holds true for vaccine makers, who know that how you deliver the ingredients powerfully affects potency. Now, researchers have devised a gel pill that can painlessly spray vaccine into the cheek and reach cells in the underlying tissue, potentially triggering what’s known as a mucosal immune response. This, in turn, might help thwart infections with pathogens like HIV, human papillomavirus, influenza, and gonococci that enter the body through the mouth, nose, or genitals.
Unlike injected vaccines, administering this “microjet vaccination” requires no particular skill. The researchers also contend that the capsule-shaped device, which they call MucoJet, triggers unique immune responses that neither oral nor injected vaccines can produce. “We can actually reach immune cells in the oral cavity,” says team member Kiana Aran, a bioengineer at the Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, California.