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Vaccination: Replacing the needle with a patch

In a shift from the usual needle used to deliver the Influenza vaccine, a Nature Medicine paper shows that researchers from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a painless patch to do the same thing. This patch is coated with 100 polymer micro-needles (650 microns in length - less than the thickness of a nickel) which dissolve after application to the skin. According to the report:

This new approach incorporates vaccine in a lyophilized form within the structural polymer material of the microneedle, thereby avoiding the need for reconstitution before administration. These polymer microneedles dissolve in the skin within minutes and are safely eliminated by the body, as evidenced by the historical use of PVP as a plasma expander. The use of needles measuring just hundreds of microns in length not only eliminates pain and enables simple delivery through a thin patch, but also inherently targets antigen to the abundant antigen-presenting cells of skin’s epidermis and dermis.

The paper notes that the patch is just as effective at immunizing mice as the standard hypodermic needle. In addition to the benefit of decreased pain associated with vaccination, this delivery method may be safer (because it produces less biohazardous waste) and it may allow for self-administration in the event of a pandemic.

Via Science News

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