Monday, April 20, 2015

60 Years After a Vaccine, New Technology May Finally Eradicate Polio

News Brief by Lushna Mehra      
      New technologies have allowed for the creation of an easily accessible and usable vaccine to get rid of polio.  Polio became extremely prevalent in the 1940s and 50s when 35,000 people were said to have been disabled annually because of it.  Two major vaccinations were used around that time: the Salk and the Sabin.  The former injected the recipient with a “dead” virus, while the latter was an oral vaccine with a weakened version of live polio.  The Sabin vaccine was especially helpful in increasing people’s immunity, though presently the U.S. uses a vaccine similar to the Salk.
            In typical cases of polio, people have few to minor symptoms like limb pain, fatigue, and nausea in 4 to 8% of cases.  Additionally, less than 1% of the cases lead to permanent paralysis, which often occurs in the legs but sometimes may occur in the respiratory system as well.  The major way in which polio spreads is from person-to-person contact, including coughing, sneezing, or fecal contamination.  The virus can last for seconds in the air, hours on a surface, and weeks in fecal matter.  Though polio was declared decimated in the U.S. in 1979, researchers want to protect the entire human population.  Smallpox is a similar virus and it is the only infectious disease that humans have gotten rid of, and many hope to do the same to polio.
            The newly created vaccine for polio involves a patch similar to an adhesive bandage.  This patch contains microneedles with the vaccine in it, and the vaccine is delivered to the body when the patch is put on the skin and pressed on.  This combats the challenge of limited resources and ability to transport them since the microneedle patch does not require professionals to administer it and is easily transportable to those in need of it.  Microneedle patches may therefore be the future to restrict and to potentially eradicate polio.    

Strickland, Ashley. "60 Years after a Vaccine, New Technology May Finally Eradicate Polio." CNN. N.p., 10 Apr. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. .
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