Georgia Tech, CDC to pursue microneedle patch for polio vaccine

The Georgia Institute of Technology wants to prove that it's scientifically and economically feasible to use a dissolving microneedle patch on the skin to deliver a polio vaccine. GIT's success would have global implications, establishing a low-cost, easy and effective way to fight polio in the developing world.

Researchers gained crucial support for their idea recently, by way of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations initiative. GIT researchers will collaborate with fellow scientists from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop the special microneedle patch, which will deliver polio vaccine into the body by dissolving into the skin.

Current options for polio vaccination programs are limited. An oral polio vaccine with a modified live virus can be delivered door-to-door, but occasionally causes polio. An injected vaccine won't do that, but trained medical technicians must administer it and refrigeration is necessary--something that can be cumbersome in the developing world.

A successful microneedle patch would incorporate a dried vaccine that wouldn't require refrigeration, would be safe, and wouldn't require training to administer it. Also, dosing through the skin could be cheaper because smaller amounts of the vaccine would likely produce the same immune response generated through traditional methods.

Lead researcher Mark Prausnitz has pursued this work for a while. In 2010, he was among GIT and other academics who published a paper in the journal Nature Medicine highlighting promising data on using the same technology for influenza vaccines.

- Here's the release
- Check out details from previous GIT microneedle patch research
- FierceVaccines' take on the story

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