Forget Needles, Puff On Mushroom Inhalers for Vaccinations
The Fungus Inhale Vaccination project imagines a new way to administer vaccinations: through using colorful fungus inhalers
What if you could skip the painful injections for vaccination, and puff on an elegant mushroom inhaler instead? According to Celine Park, a student at the Royal College of Art, using fungus inhalers to administer vaccinations may not be outside the realm of possibility.
Park’s vision of the inhalers are whimsical and colorful, Alice In Wonderland-esque, and not at all intimidating. Weakened forms of a virus would be attached to fungal spores (microscopic particles that lets fungi reproduce). When someone uses the inhaler, the spores travel through the lungs and seep into the bloodstream.
Attenuated vaccines are live microbes that are weakened in a lab. They are no longer dangerous, but still trigger the release of antibodies to fight against future infections. Attenuated vaccines are used to prevent viruses like rabies, measles and polio. Because fungus naturally contains attenuated viruses, they seem the perfect vessel to carry vaccinations.
In fact, according to Park, mushroom inhalers may be even more effective than injections. “Mould spores are very easy to transport to our lungs,” Park told Dezeen. Another unexpected benefit: “It can easily transmit to surrounding people so they can easily get herd immunity as well – just like flu or pneumonia.”
Park also imagines vaccinations as scented, flavored, and chewable fungal candy cubes, which would be far more appealing to children than a needle.
Using inhalers to treat medical conditions is not a novel concept. Inhalers are common ways to treat asthma symptoms, and there’s been research into using inhalers to administer flu vaccinations or insulin for diabetics.
According to Park, mushroom inhalers are a “great” option for most people, though not completely risk-free. Fungal diseases could prove fatal for patients with weakened immune systems, such as patients with HIV or AIDS.
“The majority of people have negative associations with fungus, as its negative side is much more exposed than the positive side,” Park said. “Fungus has so many possibilities to be developed by the medical community.”