A National Institutes of Health-funded study led by a team at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University has shown that an influenza vaccine can produce robust immune responses and be administered safely with an experimental patch of dissolving microneedles. The method is an alternative to needle-and-syringe immunization; with further development, it could eliminate the discomfort of an injection as well as the inconvenience and expense of visiting a flu clinic.
“This bandage-strip sized patch of painless and dissolvable needles can transform how we get vaccinated,” said Roderic I. Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D., director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which funded the study. “A particularly attractive feature is that this vaccination patch could be delivered in the mail and self-administered. In addition, this technology holds promise for delivering other vaccines in the future.”
The researchers received funding through an NIBIB Quantum Grant and from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The study, published online June 27, 2017, in The Lancet, was led by Nadine Rouphael, M.D., associate professor of medicine, and Mark J. Mulligan, M.D., distinguished professor of medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, in collaboration with Mark R. Prausnitz, Ph.D., Regents Professor and J. Erskine Love Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology. A team led by Prausnitz designed the dime-sized patch of microneedles used in the study.
The vaccine patch consists of 100 solid, water-soluble needles that are just long enough to penetrate the skin. “The skin is an immune surveillance organ,” Prausnitz said. “It’s our interface with the outside world, so it’s very well equipped to detect a pathogen and mount an immune response against it.”
Adhesive helps the patch grip the skin during the administration of the vaccine, which is encapsulated in the needles and is released as the needle tips dissolve, within minutes. The patch is peeled away and discarded like a used bandage strip… Continue reading....
Most people hate getting jabbed with even a single needle, but Georgia Tech’s Mark Prausnitz thinks the future of vaccination is to jab people with a hundred needles at once. But it’s not as terrifying as it sounds; in fact, Praustnitz’s design for delivering vaccines is as easy as slapping on a band-aid.
Just a fraction of a millimeter long, up to 100 microneedles can be applied at once to painlessly vaccinate patients against the flu, rubella, or the measles. Using a cocktail of sugar, vaccine, and a polymer (to keep the needles stable), each patch contains a single dose of vaccine. To apply it, you just slap it onto someone’s skin like a sticker. The tiny needles then painlessly puncture a patient’s skin, where they dissolve. 20 minutes later, and you can throw the patch away, fully vaccinated.
Although needles are most effective way of vaccinating someone, they have a lot of problems, especially in the developing world. Not only do they hurt, but require special training to mix and administer the vaccine, which itself requires refrigeration to keep viable, says Dr. James Goodson of the Center for Disease Control....