A National Institutes of Health-funded study led by a team at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University has shown that an influenza vaccine can produce robust immune responses and be administered safely with an experimental patch of dissolving microneedles.
This is an important step toward a technology that could replace needle-based vaccination methods.An early-stage research trial has found that a microneedle patch is a safe and effective way to deliver the flu vaccine.
The self-administered patch – which looks a little like a Band-Aid – has tiny dissolvable needles coated with flu vaccine.
Most European countries fail to hit the 75% flu vaccine uptake rates for people in at-risk groups such as older citizens, pregnant women and people with chronic disease. The new patch is seen as a way to overcome two major barriers: inconvenience and fear of needles.
The patch could also save money and reduce pressure on health systems by allowing people to buy it in a pharmacy and apply it at home. The technology may ultimately be used to deliver some other vaccines and helps to overcome the challenges that arise in keeping vaccines at a stable temperature during transit.
“Despite the recommendation of universal flu vaccination, influenza continues to be a major cause of illness leading to significant morbidity and mortality,” said Dr Nadine Rouphael, associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the clinical trial.
“Having the option of a flu vaccine that can be easily and painlessly self-administered could increase coverage and protection by this important vaccine.”