While any medical breakthrough is significant in that it transforms the way we approach healthcare and disease, those which change the way we combat particularly difficult conditions and diseases, like cancer, can be especially valuable when they appear on the medical scene. This is the case for a recent innovation which may completely change the way we can treat and prevent not only cancer, but other serious infectious diseases, like HIV, as well.


Discovered by a team of researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the new technique for combating these serious diseases comes in the form of an injectable 3D vaccine. It sounds like something straight out of a movie, but researchers have made the vaccine a reality.


This microscope image shows the collection of dendric cells attracted by the new vaccine's 3D structure within the body (iflscience.com)

This microscope image shows the collection of dendric cells attracted by the new vaccine’s 3D structure within the body (iflscience.com)

The process by which the vaccine works starts out with a non-surgical injection of programmable biomaterial. Once injected, that biomaterial then assembles within the body into a 3D structure that can battle existing diseases or prevent dangerous diseases from arising.


The 3D structures can be filled with biological and chemical components which, upon entering the body, can be instrumental in helping the body fight disease-causing factors from within the immune system.


When the vaccine — which is actually composed of biodegradable rod-like structures of silica known as mesoporous silica rods — transforms into a 3D structure within the body, the structure contains porous spaces which then attract dendric cells; these dendric cells can act as “surveillance” cells to a certain extent. This collection of immune cells can in turn maintain health within the body and allow a person’s system to react accordingly to develop an immune response when something out of the ordinary or harmful is detected.


What a vaccine like this could mean for the future of treating and preventing conditions like cancer and HIV is monumental. These are diseases which have proven over time to be some of the trickiest to treat, and any efforts to combat the diseases have largely consisted of keeping them at bay as opposed to truly treating or preventing them.


The potential of this new vaccine to entirely alter that reality using a revolutionary medical technique in the form of a non-surgical 3D vaccine injection can be completely transformative to not only how we combat diseases like cancer and HIV, but also how we perceive these diseases. These once-incurable conditions can start being successfully treated and prevented from the root, as opposed to conditions we can do little more to than control.


What are your thoughts on this new 3D injectable vaccine to treat and combat diseases like cancer and HIV? Share your thoughts with us below or tweet me @tamarahoumi