Curtin University researchers will develop a new whooping cough vaccine which promises to have fewer side effects, be more effective than current vaccines and will be delivered via a nasal spray.
Associate Professor Trilochan (TK) Mukkur, from Curtin’s School of Biomedical Sciences and lead researcher on the project, said whooping cough remained a serious and contagious, respiratory infection.
In 2011, there were approximately 38,500 cases of whooping cough in Australia but through an intensive vaccination campaign, reported cases dropped to approximately 26,000 in 2012. This number, however, is still too high for a preventable infectious disease, according to Associate Professor Mukkur.
“Whooping cough is an infection that if passed on to vulnerable babies, can be potentially fatal. Currently there is a vaccine, but we are looking at improving upon it to ensure it is more effective, offers long-term protection and requires less booster doses,” Associate Professor Mukkur said.
“Initially the target population for this vaccine will be adults, then adolescents and then children. Five to nine year old children and 10 to 14 year old adolescents are the biggest carriers and potential transmitters of infection to infants; so that’s where our focus is at present.”
“The vaccine will hopefully be ready for release in the community in about five to eight years time.”
Curtin has received $198,000 in funding from the Telethon New Children’s Hospital Research Fund to support the research over the next two years.
“It is very exciting and we look forward to commencing our research by October 2013,” Associate Professor Mukkur said.
The project is in collaboration with The University of Western Australia and the funding has been provided by the Channel 7 Telethon Trust and the Department of Health.