The eyes may be windows to the soul, but the nose is a gateway to the mucosal immune system. Drug companies are now developing vaccines to take advantage of that gateway.

Courtesy of Aviron

MISTING UP: Aviron's nasal flu vaccine, which has recently completed Phase III trials, targets the mucosal system and protects against both flu and ear infection.
"If you can stimulate the mucosal immune system--that's the majority of the immune system," explains Larry G. Stambaugh, president and CEO of Maxim Pharmaceuticals of San Diego. "That's where infections enter." Injected vaccines trigger antibodies in blood serum and sometimes work by unleashing a cytotoxic T cell response that occurs only after a pathogen has invaded the bloodstream. Maxim is developing a molecule that will fight the pathogens at the mucosal surfaces by preventing them from further invading the body.

Recombinant cholera toxin subunit B (rCTB) provides the heart of...

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