Oral vaccination: where we are?

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2007 Jul;4(4):323-40. doi: 10.1517/17425247.4.4.323.


As early as 900 years ago, the Bedouins of the Negev desert were reported to kill a rabid dog, roast its liver and feed it to a dog-bitten person for three to five days according to the size and number of bites [1] . In sixteenth century China, physicians routinely prescribed pills made from the fleas collected from sick cows, which purportedly prevented smallpox. One may dismiss the wisdom of the Bedouins or Chinese but the Nobel laureate, Charles Richet, demonstrated in 1900 that feeding raw meat can cure tuberculous dogs - an approach he termed zomotherapy. Despite historical clues indicating the feasibility of oral vaccination, this particular field is notoriously infamous for the abundance of dead-end leads. Today, most commercial vaccines are delivered by injection, which has the principal limitation that recipients do not like needles. In the last few years, there has been a sharp increase in interest in needle-free vaccine delivery; new data emerges almost daily in the literature. So far, there are very few licensed oral vaccines, but many more vaccine candidates are in development. Vaccines delivered orally have the potential to take immunization to a fundamentally new level. In this review, the authors summarize the recent progress in the area of oral vaccines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Drug Carriers
  • Drug Compounding
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Vaccination / methods*
  • Vaccination / trends
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / administration & dosage*
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / chemistry
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / immunology
  • Vaccines, Edible / administration & dosage*
  • Vaccines, Edible / chemistry
  • Vaccines, Edible / immunology
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / administration & dosage*
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / chemistry
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / immunology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Drug Carriers
  • Vaccines, Attenuated
  • Vaccines, Edible
  • Vaccines, Inactivated