A team of researchers has discovered new vaccine technology that can be used to treat asthma and other allergic diseases. With asthma now affecting up to one in four New Zealand children, the researchers say this is a promising step in the challenge to understand and control asthma.

Vaccines work by presenting the body with an antigen, which provokes an immune response. This involves activating T cells, produced by the body’s immune system, which are then ready to protect from the disease in the future.

To strengthen the immune response, a chemical called an adjuvant is administered along with the antigen, to make the vaccine more effective.

In the asthma vaccine, the antigen and the adjuvant are chemically linked, rather than simply co-delivered. This novel approach ensures the essential components reached the target cells together and created the most powerful but highly specific immune response that targets the disease.