Monday, July 19, 2010

New patch for vaccines could replace needle method

Yesterday, the BBC reported on a new invention that could replace the traditional needle method for delivering vaccines. The patch, jointly created by researchers from Emory University and the the Georgia Institute of Technology, uses 100 "microneedles" that dissolve the vaccine into the body. At just .65mm in length (about three times the width of a human hair), microneedle injection doesn't have the pain associated with normal needles and doesn't need to be applied by professionals.

Studies using mice and a traditional flu vaccine show that the patch may even be more effective at injecting a vaccine than the traditional needle method. Creators envision the patch being easily and cheaply distributed in areas hit by a pandemic because people can apply the patch themselves. The microneedles are dissolved into the body so there are no dangerous needles left over at the end of the process. Deep injection is not necessary for effective vaccination, because as one Emory University expert said, immune cells lie just below the surface of the skin.

-Matthew Thwaites