Microneedle patch could make vaccinations simpler, more widespread

April 28, 2015

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe a microneedle patch they are jointly developing can reduce the spread of preventable diseases by making vaccinations easier to administer.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe a microneedle patch they are jointly developing can reduce the spread of preventable diseases by making vaccinations easier to administer.

Workers with minimum training can administer the microneedle patch, and its small size (1 cm2) would make storage, distribution, and disposal much simpler than a traditional vaccination needle and syringe.

Avoiding the Top 10 vaccine errors

“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, PhD, 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.”

The patch is lined with 100 solid, conical microneedles made of polymer, sugar, and vaccine with each measuring a fraction of a millimeter long.

It is administered with the press of a thumb. The microneedles puncture the upper layers of the skin and dissolve within a few minutes. The patch is then discarded.

“We think this collaboration with CDC is an excellent example of how advances in engineering can be used to address important public health problems,” said Mark Prausnitz of GIT.

 

Researchers believe that measles, for example, can be practically eliminated through vaccination. However, the cost of getting measles vaccinations to some remote locations and storage has hampered those efforts.

The microneedle patch would require less storage and is more stable at varying temperatures than the standard vaccine. And because no disposal of needles is needed, the risks of accidental pricks are reduced.

GIT and CDC completed a study that showed the microneedle patch produces a strong immune response in rhesus macaques. No adverse effects were identified during the study.