Traditionally, doctors have been unable to vaccinate infants under two months of age due to an immature immune system that is incapable of mounting an adequate response to the vaccine. But researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Boston have found that stimulation of a molecule known as ‘Toll-like receptor 8’ (TLR-8) can boost the immune response, potentially allowing for effective infant vaccination. In short, delivery of a compound that stimulates TLR-8 production alongside a vaccine could boost the neonatal vaccine response to acceptable levels. According to the study’s lead author, this means that babies in developing countries could be vaccinated shortly after birth, before they fall out of contact with the healthcare system. Given the preliminary nature of their results, it’ll be interesting to see how this turns out in the long run.
[Source: BBC News]