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Microneedle Patch Could Boost World Vaccination

photo - microneedle patch being applied to armPhoto: Rob Felt

A microneedle patch being developed by Georgia Tech and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could make it easier to vaccinate people against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. The patch is designed to be administered by minimally trained workers and to simplify storage, distribution, and disposal compared with conventional vaccines.

The microneedle patch measures about a square centimeter and is administered with the press of a thumb. The underside of the patch is lined with 100 solid, conical microneedles made of polymer, sugar, and vaccine that are a fraction of a millimeter long. When the patch is applied, the microneedles press into the upper layers of the skin, dissolving within a few minutes, releasing the vaccine.

“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,” said James Goodson, Ph.D., epidemiologist from the CDC’s Global Immunization Division. “This advancement would be a major boost in our efforts to eliminate this disease, with more vaccines administered and more lives saved at less cost.”

Georgia Tech and the CDC recently completed a study showing that the microneedle patch produces a strong immune response in animals. Microneedles research has led to a human clinical trial of flu vaccination that is underway now, and more clinical trials are in the works.

“We think this collaboration with the CDC is an excellent example of how advances in engineering can be used to address important public health problems,” said Mark Prausnitz, a Regents Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. Prausnitz served as one of the principal investigators on the study.— CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

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