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A vaccine patch may eliminate the need for traditional means of vaccine distribution, according to an article in NPR.
A vaccine delivery system has been developed which eliminates the need for syringes and encourages patient-administration. According to an article in National Public Radio (NPR), Mark Prausnitz has created a “nickel-sized bandage-like device covered with 100 microscopic needles that would puncture the skin, then dissolve to get the vaccine into the body.” Prausnitz, a chemical and biochemical engineering professor at Georgia Tech who has been working on the patch for more than 20 years, is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Emory University to develop and test the novel drug delivery system.
The patch is made using a mold that Prausnitz and his colleagues created. By mixing a solution of the vaccine, sugars, and polymers, the team forms the microneedles using the mold and allows it to dry overnight. NPR reports that the first human trial will involve the measles vaccine, with measles patch testing in animals having already been completed.
Advantages of the patch versus traditional syringe distribution include the elimination of a refrigerator, the need for a medical professional to inoculate the patient, and the need to dispose of a needle, notes NPR. This would enable vaccines to be shipped to areas where individuals must travel to receive vaccines from locations with refrigeration and trained professionals.
In a press release from Georgia Tech published in 2012 detailing the exploration into using the patch for the measles vaccine, Prausnitz explains, “A major advantage would be the ease of delivery. Microneedles would allow us to move away from central locations staffed by health care personnel to the use of minimally-trained personnel who would go out to homes to administer the vaccine.”
"We would like people to ultimately self-administer their flu vaccines," Prausnitz says in the article from NPR, referencing a flu vaccine trial with 100 volunteers he will begin summer of 2015. Human trials of the measles patch are expected to begin in 2017.