If you were to ask a child: “What do you prefer: a needle or a patch?”, odds are that the kid won’t go for the needle. So, why then perform measles vaccinations via a needle? Well, because no other method is available. But, it looks like this is about to change. Research at the Georgia Institute of Technology has led to the development of a technique to dry and stabilize the measles vaccine and keep it effective for at least 30 days after placement onto microneedles. The research reports were published in the journal Vaccine.
In the article the researchers describe the quick release of the vaccine in the skin and the potent immune response in an animal model. The current standard of delivering the measles vaccine is the hypodermic needle, on top of which the vaccine must be kept refrigerated and the procedure performed by trained medical personnel. Microneedle patches obviously don’t make use of big hypodermic needles and can be applied by just about anyone.
The researchers will now continue working on improving the stability of the dry vaccine, aiming for the elimination of refrigeration altogether. Another point of interest is the usability of dissolvable microneedles in the patch. This would remove the need to dispose of patches containing potentially infectious microneedles. The microneedle patch measles vaccination will also be tested in animal models before commencing clinical trials in humans.
It certainly still has its way to go before the microneedle patch can be used for measles vaccination in humans, but so far the results of the research are encouraging and show a great promise for the vaccination of measles. Another interesting fact is that microneedles are currently also being studied for the vaccination of other diseases like influenza, tuberculosis and hepatitis B.
Article in Vaccine: Measles vaccination using a microneedle patch
News release on Georgia Tech’s site: Measles Vaccine Given with a Microneedle Patch Could Enhance International Immunization Programs