Flu Vaccinations Under Your Tongue

M2-based flu vaccination is successful in mice

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It's that time of the year, flu shots are here. For those scared of needles, future flu vaccination may be as easy as placing it under your tongue.

A type of flu vaccination, that can be placed under the tongue, has had positive results in mice. This flu vaccination helped protect against the latest strains of bird flu and swine flu. It also provided protection against various other flu strains. Researchers hope to test this treatment out in humans.

"If you are scared of shots, ask your doctor for the nasal spray version."

The flu vaccination focuses on using an antigen, matrix protein 2 (M2), to develop flu immunity. An antigen is a molecule that causes the production of antibodies by the immune system, which are used to fight against diseases.

Scientists from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) developed the M2 flu vaccine to be used under the tongue because when it was given as a shot it was not effective. The vaccine did not create an immunity in the lungs, which is what prevents an individual from getting the flu later.

When it was developed to be used under the tongue, the M2-based flu vaccine proved successful in mice.

The M2-based flu vaccine has potential to be a universal flu vaccination. The reason why there are yearly flu shots is because the flu mutates and new vaccines have to be made to combat these new strains.

The M2 protein is a part of most flu viruses and does not mutate. This can be targeted by scientists as a stable way to treat new flu strains.

With scares like the swine flu or the bird flu in recent years, there is a need for new flu vaccines to be developed. Yearly production of new flu shots to combat new strains can be problematic because there are only so many facilities to develop flu vaccinations and a limited lead time to provide enough flu shots worldwide.

Because of the success in mice against various strains of flu, including swine flu and bird flu, human testing is the next logical step. Scientists hope to replicate the success of this very easily delivered vaccine in humans.

The M2-based flu vaccination has plenty of tests to pass before it becomes readily available for widespread use. If it is proven successful in humans, flu season will become that much more tolerable.

This study was published in the November edition of PLoS ONE.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 12, 2011
Last Updated:
October 8, 2012