An experimental study may yield a new alternative for receiving annual vaccinations against the influenza virus.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have found that a ‘microneedle’ patch can safely deliver a flu vaccination that yields a robust immune response.
The device consists of 100 solid, water-soluble needles, which are just long enough to penetrate the skin. An adhesive helps it stick to the skin while it delivers the treatment. Needle tips dissolve as it secretes the formulation within minutes, enabling the user to peel the patch away like a used band-aid.
Investigators ran a study where they enrolled 100 adult participants and split them into four random groups. All patients received an inactivated formulation of the vaccine given in the 2014-2015 flu season.
One group received vaccinations via the patch given by a health care provider, another group received the vaccination through self-administration, and the next two received an intramuscular injection by a health care provider or a placebo given by a healthcare provider.
Results from this trial indicated the patch could safely administer the vaccine with no serious adverse events reported, except d for some patients who developed faint redness and mild itching in the area where the patch resided.
Also, an analysis of blood samples showed antibody responses generated by the vaccine were consistent in groups who receive the shot by the patch as well as intramuscular injections, with immune responses still being present after six months.
“This bandage-strip sized patch of painless and dissolvable needles can transform how we get vaccinated,” said the director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D., said, in a statement
There are other potential economic and manufacturing advantages associated with this technology including lower delivery costs, as it can be easily transported and requires no refrigeration. Also, users can self-administer the treatment, eliminating the need to have health workers monitor the process.
The scientists behind this development plan on conducting further clinical trials to refine the technology while potentially creating similar microneedle patches for measles, rubella, and polio.
Funding for this experiment was provided through a Quantum Grant from the NIBIB and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery