Flu vaccine given in microneedle skin patches offers new hope

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Washington, Apr 28 (ANI): Researchers at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have found flu vaccine delivered through skin patches containing microneedles as effective at preventing influenza in mice as intramuscular, hypodermic flu immunization.

The researchers claims that the microneedle skin patch method could improve overall seasonal vaccination as it is simpler, safer and painless.

The patches contain an array of stainless steel microneedles coated with inactivated influenza virus.

They are pressed manually into the skin and after a few minutes, the vaccine coating dissolved off within the skin.

The coated microneedle immunizations were compared to conventional intramuscular hypodermic injections at the same dose in another group of mice.

"Our findings show that microneedle patches are just as effective at protecting against influenza as conventional hypodermic immunizations," said Dr Richard Compans, Emory professor of microbiology and immunology and one of the paper's senior authors.

"Unlike conventional hypodermic injections, microneedles are prepared in a patch for simple administration, possibly by patients themselves, and inserted painlessly onto the skin without specialized training," said Dr Mark Prausnitz, professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and co-senior author.

"These micron-scale needles can be mass produced using low-cost methods for distribution to doctors' office, pharmacies and, possibly, people's homes," he added.

Lower doses could be particularly important because flu vaccine production capacity sometimes is limited for seasonal vaccine, and a future influenza pandemic would require much greater production of vaccine.

Replacing a hypodermic needle with a microneedle patch also could significantly impact the way other vaccines are delivered, and could be particularly beneficial in developing countries.

A microneedle patch could fit inside an envelope for delivery by the postal service and would occupy much less storage space.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (ANI)

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