Vaccine for vomiting bug '5 years away'
A vaccine against the notorious norovirus 'winter vomiting bug' could be available within five years, scientists believe.
Two rival groups in the US are working on vaccines that are close to being tested in clinical trials.
Unlike conventional 'jabs', they would not be injected into the bloodstream but sprayed or puffed into the nose as a liquid or dry powder.
Inside the nostrils they would trigger an immune response that is repeated when a norovirus enters the stomach.
Noroviruses produce non-fatal but extremely unpleasant bouts of illness leading to violent repeated vomiting and diarrhoea. The viral particles can be carried in the air or on tiny amounts of contaminated food and are highly contagious.
Recent reports have highlighted norovirus outbreaks sweeping through cruise ships and forcing the closure of hospital wards.
Professor Charles Arntzen from Arizona State University, who leads the team developing the 'powder puff' vaccine, said: "Where we are at the present time is we're coming up with a vaccine which will be in a little spray device.
"It's single use, you get a puff of powder. And our current formulation is showing a wonderful immune response.
"The technical issues are being solved. Now it's a regulatory issue. If everything went well and if there was enough financial support, I could easily see us having a vaccine in four to five years."
He predicted the cost of the vaccine to be about $40-$50 (¤30-¤38) per dose. To stay protected, treatment might have to be repeated at intervals of between six months and two years.
Another group at the company LigoCyte is conducting research on a similar nasal vaccine in a liquid spray.