Leeds & West Yorkshire

New polio vaccine being developed at Leeds University

Scientists at the University of Leeds are developing a new type of polio vaccine that can trick the body to develop immunity against the disease.

The project has been awarded $500,000 (£317,000) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Researchers will design a replica virus particle that looks and behaves like the real virus, but is actually an empty protein shell.

It is hoped the hoax virus will help trigger the body's immune system.

The team is being led by scientists at the university's Faculty of Biological Sciences.

They were working with Harvard University, the University of Oxford and the UK's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC).

New approach

Dr Nicola Stonehouse from the University of Leeds said: "This is an entirely new strategic approach against polio. The project is not about improving the efficiency of the current types of vaccine.

"Our intention is to design and produce a replica virus particle.

"This means it will be entirely safe to use as it can't ever cause the disease, and, unlike current vaccines, can be produced without needing to grow large amounts of the infectious virus."

The first stage of the research will focus on testing whether the replica model works against the virus.

If it works, it could lead to the vaccine being developed in the form of an injection.

The polio virus is transmitted through food and water. It is highly infectious and can lead to paralysis.

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