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Skin patch vaccines 'safer and simpler'

Delivering vaccines through skin patches is simpler and safer than using needles, according to a new study

Delivering vaccines through a skin patch rather than via a needle could provide a simpler and safer vaccination technique, according to researchers from Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their findings have been published online in the journal Nature Medicine.

The research team developed a skin patch containing 100 0.65mm-long microneedles, which penetrate the surface layers of skin and dissolve on contact. The team used the patch to deliver an influenza vaccine to mice.

The researchers found that this method of vaccination provided complete protection by producing 'robust' antibody and cellular immune responses. Compared with the conventional model of vaccine delivery – intramuscular injection – 'skin patch vaccination' was more efficient at clearing the virus from the lungs and increased cellular recall responses after infection.

As well as the increased immune response, this method of vaccination also eliminates the risk and pain associated with hypodermic needles, and would provide a less traumatic method of drug delivery for needle-phobic patients. The researchers believe that this technology could allow people to vaccinate themselves and could simplify large-scale vaccination during a pandemic.

19th July 2010

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