During the next pandemic, people may be able to get their vaccines delivered in the mail rather than having to wait in line for a jab.
Prof. Mark Kendall of the Australian Institute for Biotechnology and Nanotechnology says he has developed a nanopatch no bigger than a postage stamp that can be used to deliver a vaccine. And unlike most vaccines today, it doesn't need to be refrigerated, and it eliminates any nasty injuries caused by injections.
"The World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of vaccinations in Africa are unsafe due to cross-contamination caused by needle-stick injury," Kendall tells the Australian Broadcasting Association. But the nanopatch--which should also be cheaper than vaccines delivered with a needle--uses thousands of tiny projections to inject the vaccine through the skin directly to target cells. The stamp dissolves on administration.
"Currently most vaccines are delivered with the needle and syringe into muscle, which has few immune cells," he adds. "In contrast, the skin is abundant in immune cells, offering great potential for vaccines, if we can successfully exploit it with practical delivery devices."
There are a number of R&D projects focused on a new generation of vaccine patches. As we reported last week, Georgia Tech investigators have been engaged in their own project using microneedles arranged on a bandaged-sized patch.