A method of vaccination that provides instant immunity could give people spontaneous protection against diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, toxins and even cancerous cells, according to scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in California.
Current vaccines can take days or weeks before they offer protection. But the two-stage method developed by the Scripps team targets specific cells and creates a "universal" immune reaction, Agence France Presse reported.
"The antibodies in our vaccine are designed to circulate inertly until they receive instructions from tailor-made small molecules to become active against a specific target," explained team leader Carlos Barbas.
"The advantage of this method is that it opens up the possibility of having antibodies primed and ready to go in the time it takes to receive an injection or swallow a pill," he told AFP. "This would apply whether the target is a cancer cell, flu virus, or a toxin like anthrax that soldiers or even civilian populations might have to face during a bioterrorism attack."
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.