A new study may give vaccination a potential shot in the arm, thanks to probiotics.
Probiotics are bacteria that have been harvested, primarily from dairy, and can be prescribed by doctors to increase the function of certain parts of the immune system.
By packaging an anthrax vaccination within probiotics, researchers at Northwestern University found that the vaccine makes it to the small intestine unscathed, allowing it to work from the immune systems staging point there.
When it is in the small intestine, the probiotics are able to increase development of T-cells and B-cells that can combat the disease more quickly than a vaccine that has to travel from the extremities to the small intestine.
That, says study author Mansour Mohamadzadeh, makes it at least as effective in survivability as the standard shot when tested on rats, while increasing immune system response.
The use of probiotics can be extended, he said, to other disease vaccines, and a trial is expected to be conducted on a new multi-cancer vaccine treating breast, pancreatic and colon variants.
Probiotics, which can be taken orally like nutritional supplements, have been suggested as possible antidotes to travel-based gastro-intestinal problems and irritable bowel syndrome.