Microneedles Boost Vaccine Efficacy

July 23, 2010
Stephanie Sutton
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Researchers claim that a dissolving microneedle patch may be able to offer improved vaccination against influenza compared with traditional needles, and also allow people without medical training to easily and safely administer the vaccine.

Researchers claim that a dissolving microneedle patch may be able to offer improved vaccination against influenza compared with traditional needles, and also allow people without medical training to easily and safely administer the vaccine.

“We envision people getting the patch in the mail or at a pharmacy and then self-administering it at home,” explained Sean Sullivan, lead author of the study, according to a news release. “Because the microneedles on the patch dissolve away onto the skin, there would be no dangerous sharp needles left over.”

The vaccine is carried by the patch’s microscopic needles, which are made of a polymer material that can be used safely in the body. The needles dissolve quickly in body fluids when the patch is applied to the skin and all that is left behind is the water-soluble backing, which can be discarded. If mass produced, the patches are expected to cost about the same as conventional needles.

In a study involving mice published in Nature Medicine, the researchers from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology claim to demonstrate that an influenza vaccine administered by the patch is just as effective as a vaccine delivered via a traditional hypodermic needle. In fact, it may even be more effective. When the researchers exposed mice to the influenza virus 3 months after vaccination, they noted a faster immune response in mice that had been vaccinated using the microneedle patch.

Of course, all that has been achieved so far is still early work and clinical studies will be required to ensure safety and efficacy in humans. The researchers have also said that they will want to better understand why vaccine delivered using dissolving microneedles appears to provide better protection compared with traditional syringes.

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