Pediatric vaccinations make children's skin resemble pincushions. Transcutaneous immunization methods in development aim to make their skin function like sponges.

Harnessing the adjuvant activity of cholera toxin (CT) could make this immunization method feasible, predicts Gregory M. Glenn, scientific director of IOMAI Inc., a biotech company in Washington, D.C. Glenn and colleagues are developing a technique that mixes the toxin with antigens to boost immune responses. In one set of experiments, the researchers shaved mice, anesthetized them to prevent them from licking their skin, then swabbed on solutions of antigens coupled with CT. Antibodies produced against CT and bovine serum albumin, CT and diphtheria toxoid, and CT and tetanus toxoid were drastically higher than antibodies produced by each of the substances without CT (G.M. Glenn et al., Nature, 391:851, Feb. 26, 1998). The applications produced immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses--the same blood serum antibody response injected vaccines produce. Glenn...

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