Researchers said “self-disseminating vaccines" could stop coronaviruses passing from animals to humans - but there are concerns of harmful unintended consequences. The unusual proposal could be a cost-effective way to halting deadly pathogens jumping from animal reservoirs and infecting human populations. However there are fears the genetically-engineered viruses could evolve mutations that make them harmful to human and wildlife populations.
In a scientific article entitled 'Self-disseminating vaccines to suppress zoonoses', published in Nature magazine, researchers argued the "advances in genetic engineering now raise the possibility of overcoming challenges through the use of self-disseminating vaccines capable of transferring from one individual to the next."
James J Bull and Scott L Nuismer of the department of Biological Sciences at the University of Idaho argued "it is now more apparent than ever that we need a better and more proactive approach" to halting outbreaks of coronaviruses.
They outline a method of "using vaccines capable of autonomously spreading through wild animal reservoirs" in order to eliminate a potentially harmful disease from affecting human populations.
However, the researchers admit a virus used to transmit a vaccine could evolve back to its original harmful state and thus cause "unintended" consequences.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Scientists plan 'self-spreading' vaccine (Image: GETTY)
The researchers stated: "An additional problem confronting attenuated transmissible vaccines is the possibility of evolution returning the vaccine to its wild-type and pathogenic state."
They added the "sustained replication and transmission" of a self-spreading vaccine "creates substantial opportunities for evolution" where the mutated vaccine could circulate and causes disease.
The researchers point to the escape and circulation of the live polio vaccine as an example of a negative unintended consequence of using this method.
The scientists are “poised to begin developing self-disseminating