A UNIVERSITY of Hong Kong (HKU, 香港大學) research finding will change medical textbooks and perhaps the way influenza is vaccinated against internationally.
It discovered that a skin cancer and wart treatment ointment, topical imiquimod, is highly effective in vaccinating against flu when combined with the usual jab provided that the needle penetrates only to the dermal layer.
Influenza vaccinations are usually shot into the muscle layer.
The ointment targets dermal cells that notify the immune system about an influenza threat.
“The drug is able to cause the cells to notify louder,” said Yuen Kwok-yung (袁國勇), chair professor of infectious diseases.
Yuen wants to turn the ointment into a medicinal patch that may be applied more easily.
The beneficial effects of the ointment on vaccinations have been seen in an ongoing study by HKU since last year. One breakthrough is the new Respiratory Virus Research Foundation (呼吸道病毒研 究基金), jointly established by HKU and Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU, 理工大學) in support of respiratory viral research.
The foundation has raised HK$24 million in donations from sources, including the Macau Henry Fok Foundation (澳門霍英東基金會) and the Stanley Ho Medical Foundation (何鴻燊博士醫療拓展基金會). This joint venture will allow HKU to transform its research into clinically applicable products with PolyU’s industrial manufacturing expertise.
Yuen hopes the partnership will quickly develop the ointment into a medicinal patch.
“Cooperation between the two universities will allow the drug to be delivered faster,” PolyU vice president of research development Alexander Wai Ping-kong (衞炳江) said.
(This article is published on The Student Standard on 17 November 2015)