Human clinical trials will soon get underway of a new micropatch delivery system for vaccines developed at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. It is said not to hurt and what's more, you can administer the vaccine yourself!
The micropatch consists of about 100 needles that are only 650 micrometers tall. It is applied to the skin like a Band-Aid. The vaccine is absorbed by skin tissue, which is expected to be more effective at getting an immune response because there are immune cells in the skin that can carry the vaccine quickly to other immune cells. In contrast, the needle vaccine is injected into muscle, which has no immune cells, so the vaccine has to travel through the bloodstream and lymph system in order to get to immune cells.
Vaccination Patch, developed by researchers at Georgia Tech: Photo by Sean Sullivan via Science News
Sean Sullivan, lead author of the study, published online today in the journal Nature Medicine, says that the patch could easily replace the needle for most vaccinations, even the yearly flu shot. It can be stored at room temperature and has a longer 'shelf life' (months) than the needle vaccinations, making the patch more accessible to hard to reach populations around the globe.
For those in developed countries, it means we won't have to go to a doctor or other health care worker to receive a vaccine. Once a doctor prescribes it, we would be able to just pick it up at the pharmacy and apply it to ourselves. And not to worry about the pain of removing the 100 needles from your skin. They dissolve after you slap the patch on.
"Vaccine-laden microneedles dissolve into a pig's skin after one minute (middle) and are completely gone after five minutes (bottom)": Photo by Sean Sullivan via Science News