New pain-free vaccine patches on the horizon

By Maria Kyriacou

New pain-free vaccine patches on the horizon
Painless vaccine patches promise to take the sting out of immunisation

Researchers at Georgia Tech and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US are working on vaccine patches as an alternative to needles.

The breakthrough invention set to be trialled in 2017 is covered in microneedles. It is applied to the skin delivering a painless dose of medication. The lack of an injection takes away the need for a sterile environment and even the requirement that a medical professional needs to administer it. This means that the patches are cheaper to produce and easier to store, as they don’t require refrigeration.

In a press release, James Goodson, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s Global Immunisation Division, said, “Each day, 400 children are killed by measles complications worldwide. With no needles, syringes, sterile water or sharps disposals needed, the microneedle patch offers great hope of a new tool to reach the world’s children faster, even in the most remote areas.”

According to a study published in March in the journal Vaccine, the patch takes around 10 minutes to take effect, and in experiments generated a neutralizing antibody to the measles virus. Various research teams across the world have been working on a vaccine patch for over ten years, but this is the closest we’ve come to it being a viable product.

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