If the thought of injections terrifies you, and let’s face it most people do get a tad queasy at the though of needles, then there may be light at the end of the tunnel thanks to Royal College of Art student Celine Park. Her conceptual Fungus Inhale Vaccination project imagines impregnating the fungi with a weakened version of any given virus, allowing it to become part of the mushroom spores to carry vaccines into the bloodstream, which a person then inhales into the lungs.
Of course inhaled vaccines do already exist and in some cases they are even more effective than their injected ounterparts. For example the children’s nasal flu vaccine Fluenz Tetra, available from next year for all children aged between two and six, and recently researchers at the National Institute for Health and the University of Texas found success in an aerosol vaccine against Ebola in primates.
Parks is convinced that inhalation of vaccines will be more beneficial than the traditional method of injecting into the skin to reach the bloodstream – “Beside the fact that we can gain better immunity system with inhaled vaccinations, another benefit of having it is that it can easily transmit to surrounding people so they can easily get herd immunity as well – just like flu or pneumonia”. As part of her proposal, Park also imagined chewable fungal vaccines that would be scented and flavoured to encourage children to eat them.
Although just a concept for now there is a clear drive within the medical community to create new ways of innoculating populations quickly and inexpensively in regions throughout the world. If we could vaccinate people through an inhaler it would cut out the need for cold chains (a vital infrastructure keeping vaccines refridgerated in some of the harshest conditions on Earth) allowing vital medicines easy storage and application…perhaps fungi could be the answer.