Microneedle patches deliver pain-free flu vaccine

Barsaba Taglieri
Giugno 29, 2017

When the plaster is pressed into the skin, the microneedles dissolve - carrying the active ingredient of the flu vaccine into the body.

The CDC says only about 41 percent of American adults on average get the flu vaccine each year. Also patch has some side effects such as redness, itching and tenderness in the area of the skin where the patch being applied.

The microneedle patches can be administered safely and can be a substitute for the needle-and-syringe vaccination.

In an efort to make the treatments more widely used, researchers are exploring the possibility of using a patch covered in tiny needles to deliver a flu vaccine through the skin, instead of using a shot. (In the other group, healthcare professionals did the job.) Inspection of the used vaccine patches revealed that the microneedles dissolved during the 20 minutes they were on the skin.

Roughly one third of people over 65 had not gotten a flu or pneumococal vaccine.

In fact, there as in France, the population is reluctant to be vaccinated against the flu.

Not only do the patches offer a low-priced procedure and reduce risky waste, but they can be applied by the patient and do not need to be kept cold since they are stable at 40C for a year.

They also determined that the immune system response of the participants to the vaccine was just as strong in both the patch and the flu shot groups.

The patch could one day replace flu shots.

The phase 1 trial involved 100 volunteers and was meant mostly to demonstrate how safe the microneedle patches are to use.

"Microneedle patches have the potential to become ideal candidates for vaccination programs, not only in poorly resourced settings, but also for individuals who now prefer not to get vaccinated", the editorialists wrote.

Experts from Public Health England said it might also be good to use in young children, who tend not to like needles, although the United Kingdom has already introduced a nasal spray flu vaccine for them.

The authors summarize: "Influenza vaccination using microneedle patches is well-tolerated, well-accepted, and results in robust immunologic responses, whether administered by health care workers or by the participants themselves".

More impressive was that the patch provided just as many antibodies as the jab, with 96 per cent of those using it noting it was pain-free technique while 70 per cent stated they preferred the approach over a needle.

"This bandage-strip sized patch of painless and dissolvable needles can transform how we get vaccinated", said Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, director of the U.S. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which funded the study. It can be easily packaged for transportation, requires no refrigeration, and is stable.

"There is a big minority of people who won't have vaccinations in general because of needles", he said, adding that the patch design could be applied to other forms of vaccinations.

The research team is planning to carry out further clinical trials for pursuing the ultimate accessibility of the technology to patients and is also working toward developing microneedle patches to use with other vaccines such as measles, rubella, and polio.

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